Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free Parking in Rotherham ... but if you've had a ticket drop us a line

Rotherham … Friday 11th April 2008

After failing to get a Penalty Charge Notice in Sheffield we went up the road to Rotherham. First stop was the Town Hall to pick up copies of the Traffic Regulation Orders.

No sooner had F1 NED been parked in the echelon bays than a Civil Enforcement Officer appeared. However, he soon had a dilemma. After reading the ads on the side of the car and checking around for a camera crew he started logging the vehicle. I went over and introduced myself … and then pointed out the unlawful upright plates adjacent to the bay. I then took him to the pay and display meter and showed him why he couldn’t issue a PCN.

He was very pleasant and professional, (and if it wasn't for the fact that the council and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal benefited financially from his activities he would be an excellent ambassador for the town) and mentioned that he had seen me on TV a couple of weeks ago. I asked him to contact his boss to ensure that if he did issue then it had been a conscious decision by management and not just down to him. He had also written in his pocket book the reasons why it would be unlawful of him to issue in light of what he had been told.

No TROs in the Town Hall. We were told to go to the Civic Building. The CEO was still with the car.
“Have I got a ticket?” I asked.
“Sorry Sir, I’ve been told not to issue to you. It’ll cause too much paperwork.”
I bid him a good afternoon and traveled the half a mile or so to the Civic Building and parked in the pay and display car park ... free of charge.

The very helpful girls in Customer Service at the front desk then began the process of attempting to track down the TROs which were proving more elusive than the Holy Grail. I was directed to another building past the bus station and down the underpass. I walked and was told in reception that they were not there … they were in the Civic Building. Malcolm Beard, Head of Parking Services seemed very reluctant to engage in any dialogue.
So, back to Civic Building.

The three girls in Customer Service were slightly embarrassed. I pointed out that I hadn’t wanted to register in the Rotherham Keep Fit Initiative … getting the runaround, I simply wanted a copy of the TROs that they were relying on to enforce the restrictions … and remove hard-earned money from motorists pockets.

Finally, I was told Rotherham’s Solicitor, Richard Waller was on his way. I was then taken into his office. However, matters rapidly descended into farce. He was only able to produce the Off-Street Parking Places Order. Nothing was available for On-Street. I pointed out that these documents should be available for inspection by the public on demand. I was told that he would send a copy out.
I then asked for a copy of the only order he had been able to produce, offering to pay photocopying costs.
He said, “ No, you are not getting a copy.”

I was quite taken aback by this. “Excuse me? You are refusing to supply a copy of the Traffic Order to a member of the public? On what grounds?”

“ Yes. I am not going to give you are copy.”

At this point I asked that this be registered as a formal complaint and asked for the name of the Chief Executive.
I then asked him to write down the fact that the on-street pay and display bays were incorrectly marked with the upright plates failing to state the times of operation of the bays, and the meters had had the Penalty Charge amount blanked out, and he should inform Parking Services and the Chief Executive immediately that enforcement MUST be suspended in these locations immediately. As he was now aware that any attempt to enforce or issue PCNs would be done in the full knowledge that the restrictions were not lawful then that could leave council officers and the CEOs open to a complaint of misfeasance in public office.

I left and attempted to get a ticket. Driving along I passed a CEO. He got on his radio immediately. I pulled over and asked him if I went and parked up would he give me a ticket.
The answer was “No, we have been told not to issue to you,” but he went on to tell me that he would still issue to other vehicles.

So there you have it. If you know the law and the fact that Rotherham Council’s on-street pay and display restrictions are not lawful then you don’t get a ticket. If you don’t know the law then they will ticket you and take your money.

The Civil Enforcement Officers now have a moral and legal dilemma. Do they continue to issue where they know it is unlawful to do so ... whilst ignorance may have previously been a defence it most certainly isn't now. Check here for an insight into the possible consequences. Perhaps the unions should be informed.

Meanwhile, anyone with a Rotherham ticket e-mail and we will provide you with the defence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When you say "After failing to get a Penalty Charge Notice in Sheffield", does that mean you didn't see any wardens or they refused to issue?

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