Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bays in Fleet Hampshire are ruled unenforceable

Another victory, this time for Parking Appeals member Peter Ashford's campaign. However, the council states that it has no intention of refunding the money.

Unfortunately, they cannot legally keep the money which has been 'unlawfully derived.'

Check out the restitution section on the site and see how you can begin claiming a refund.

Council finally changes illegal parking bays
By Joanna Till
18/ 6/2008

Hampshire County Council is set to re-mark Fleet Road’s parking bays after a national adjudicator ruled they were unenforceable.

Hart District Council stopped enforcing the parking regulations after the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) ruled in March that the bays were not lawful and should not be adhered to.

The county council will now send contractors in the next few weeks to burn off the existing lines and paint new ones.

Fleet town centre manager Paul Doughty hopes the dis-trict council will then allow a small grace period for drivers to readjust to the enforcement of the regulations before it starts issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs) again.

“There won’t be a massive difference in the size of the bays, but once they are re-marked they will be enforceable,” said Mr Doughty.
“To be honest, I’m not sure most people will notice the difference.”

The March ruling came after former Hook resident Stephen Robson was issued a PCN in Fleet Road, even though the district council allegedly already knew the bays were illegally marked and not enforceable.
Mr Robson parked outside the Captured Moment shop in January last year, unaware parking was restricted because there were no signs and no yellow lines.
Mr Robson complained to the council, which said only goods vehicles were allowed to use the bays, and only at certain times of the day.
He appealed to the NPAS in October, when the adjudicator held that although Mr Robson’s arguments were correct the PCN should be upheld.

The NPAS accepted that Mr Robson’s case merited a review, which was heard in Winchester on March 6.

The adjudicator said: “I further conclude that the difference between what is required and what has actually been painted on the carriageway is so great that the bays in Fleet Road cannot be enforced.”

Cllr Stephen Parker, portfolio holder for the environment, said: “When the judgement came through we accepted it straight away and stopped fining people parked there.”

Campaigner Peter Ashford said he told the district council the restrictions were unlawful soon after they were introduced.
The district council informed the county council, which checked the bays, said there were no problems and insisted the restrictions should be enforced.

Cllr Parker said: “Until you have a judgment on these things they are only allegations.
“We cannot stop enforcing every time there is an allegation made, particularly when you have already been told by the county council that the bays are lawful.”

Mr Doughty said several challenges had been made since the restrictions were brought in, and it was possible there would be more once the bays were re-marked.

Restrictions concerning the bays marked for disabled people have not been enforced since the adjudicator’s decision.

Mr Doughty said: “I’ve had a lot of angry phonecalls over the past month or so from people who are entitled to park in those bays and who have not been able to do so because an able-bodied person is there instead.
“They’ve had to park a lot further away which has been very difficult for them.”

A series of BBC reports claimed councils including Hart had raised thousands of pounds from unlawful fines.

The Department for Transport told the BBC it expected the councils involved to “seriously consider” paying back the fines.Hart raised an estimated £400,000 by issuing the unlawful charges.

Cllr Parker said: “We have no plans to pay back the fines.”

The Tory-dominated district council decided on June 5 to reinstate free parking in Fleet town centre.
Exact details have not yet been decided, but early plans cite the possibility of 24 free bays in the Victoria Road, Church Road and Gurkha Square car parks.
Cllr Parker said: “Plans will be finalised soon but we’re quite certainly not looking to hang about.”
Parking in the bays would be restricted to 30 minutes, with no return within an hour, which Mr Doughty said would allow shoppers to go into Fleet to buy smaller items without paying for a full hour in the car parks.

“There’s a lot of people who want to just nip in quickly to buy a loaf of bread or something,” he said.
“They’re not even going to spend £1 in the shop they’re going to, yet they have to pay about the same again to park their car.
“It’s having such a negative effect on the town centre. All it does is drive people away from the centre and towards huge supermarkets with free parking.
“It’s bad news for town centre retailers.
“Parking in general has become really very expensive, especially with the rising costs of fuel and duty charges.
“This will encourage people back to the centre, and it will certainly have a very positive effect.”

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