Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Yellow peril fines fiasco
Mar 17 2005
By Simon Armstrong, The Evening Chronicle
Drivers fined for illegal parking could get a refund because of a loophole.
James Neffendorf was slapped with a ticket for parking on a single yellow line in the centre of Newcastle.
He was convinced the £30 ticket was wrong because there were no restricted parking signs.
And he single-handedly took his campaign to court where he triumphed after a 15-month fight.
Now police chiefs have admitted there are questions over the signs' "legality", potentially costing the authorities thousands of pounds waiving parking fines.
The 52-year-old was ordered to pay £30 after leaving his Volvo Estate on a single yellow line while he went to watch a Newcastle United Sunday game.
The married dad-of-two had left his vehicle below the Central Library, just off John Dobson Street, in December 2003. He initially lost his case after appearing at Newcastle's magistrates court in October and was also ordered to pay £70 costs.
But, determined he was in the right, he took his fight to the city's Moot Hall and won after legal eagles accepted he should not have been booked because there were no signs outlining any parking restrictions - effectively rendering the yellow line meaningless.
The judge overturned the ticket after hearing officials had failed to follow section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, by not displaying any notification of restrictions.
James, of Darras Hall, Ponteland, said: "I knew there was a single yellow line there but because there was no sign I was convinced it was not a restricted area. I couldn't believe it when I got a ticket.
"I contacted both the police and the council about the law but neither seemed sure as to how things stood. I took the unusual step of getting in touch with the Crown Prosecution Service and they told me which regulation I needed to study.
"Effectively, every line needs a sign because without them they're meaningless.
"I was stunned when I lost at the Magistrates Court and had a real feeling an injustice had been done. The whole thing began eating me up and I was unwilling to let it rest.
"I would say anyone who has been booked for parking on a single yellow line in the city should challenge it because I think they are in the right."
During his appearance at the Magistrates Court last October, a council parking official provided a statement saying there were several signs located on the approach to the city centre warning motorists they are entering a "metre zone" with restrictions applying.
However, James, who works as a managing director of a computer firm, provided photographs to show they weren't in place.
Insp David Rickaby, of Newcastle Area Command, said: "We are aware of this case and there are a number of issues we are looking into at the moment.
"Although we are the enforcement agency for yellow lines, there are questions with the legality of the signing which we are looking into."
Peter Wightman, highways services manager, for Newcastle City Council said the authority - who put up the signs - is confident it is right, despite the court decision.
He said: "The city centre is covered by a metre zone and highway law states additional signs are not required to uphold restrictions unless they are different to the gateway signs to the zone."
The Department for Transport was unable to comment on individual cases and a spokesman would only say: "The Highway Code instructs drivers to consult nearby signs for guidance on time restrictions."
Posted by Neil Herron at 2:39 pm
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