Another council blunders over its parking regulations. This time its Newcastle. At first they denied that there were any problems ... then failed to produce any evidence in Court when Roberto Campoli brought his case.
Then more and more questions were asked and was eventually supplied by the Department for Transport ... which showed there was more to this than meets the eye.
The £30 Fixed Daily Charge signs were being removed and all the bays remarked. Remember that the Special Authorisation for the Fixed Daily Charge signs was revoked in 2001 and 185,000 parking tickets were issued AFTER that. The council claimed that they had counsel's opinion that said otherwise, but communications from the Department for Transport stated that Newcastle should have been fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Looks like someone needs to challenge this in court ... if the council wish to maintain the position that they are correct.
Meanwhile, the remarking of the bays meant that they could not be enforced until the council gets permission. The are moving from criminalised to civil enforcement ... and can only do so if they reassure the DfT that all their signs, lines and traffic orders are correct ... hence the panic to get everything corected.
They had hoped that no-one would notice. Unfortunately for them we did.
So now it is free parking as shown below. However, if you have had a ticket in the last few weeks we would like to hear ...
Newcastle City Council parking loophole lets drivers off hook
Mar 14 2009
by Paul James,
LITTLE-KNOWN Government rules have led to a parking free-for-all in the region. Council officials last night admitted they are powerless to enforce regulations governing thousands of parking spaces in the North East.
The rules mean Newcastle City Council is unable to issue parking fines to drivers who park in certain disabled or residential spaces or those allocated for taxis or loading.
It is because council chiefs are preparing for parking enforcement to become a civil, rather then criminal regime, which is expected to be authorised next month.
They have replaced about 3,000 £30 fixed daily charge signs and bay markings across the city in advance of the switch.
But traffic wardens are currently powerless to fine anyone for parking in those bays because the Government is yet to approve the new orders.
Parking campaigners say the council’s admission as a victory for drivers in the city, as well as businesses which will benefit from extra shoppers. But council chiefs last night warned it would be "irresponsible" for people to park in bays meant for disabled people, taxis and for loading.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron, who has previously helped several motorists challenge fines from the £30 signs, said the council was "bang to rights".
Mr Herron said: "We always knew from the outset that this regime was massively flawed, but the council went into a state of denial instead of just accepting it.
"For at least four or five weeks Newcastle businesses are going to benefit and more people are going to come into the city because they’re not going to be punished with parking fines."
The city council said there were "obvious moral issues" with the free parking issue and that "just because people can park in these places, it doesn’t mean that they should".
The council estimates that around 50 loading bays, 100 disabled bays and 50 taxi bays, plus all the city’s residents’ parking spaces, are affected.
Jesmond restaurant Francesca’s, situated within a new residents’ parking scheme, is advertising the free parking in a bid to stop potential customers driving away when they see the road signs.
Boss Giovanni Sardone, whose family have run the business for 25 years, said: "We have regular customers coming from Hexham, Corbridge, all over the place, and they find it hard to get a parking space.
"Customers are saying they can’t find a space and have had to drive away – it’s the major talking point now when people come in.
"We’ve put a big sign in the window to stop people driving away. We think these new rules are going to have a major knock-on effect on the business. We’ve filled 10 pages of a petition – it’s something we really don’t want to happen."
Newcastle Council director of regulatory services and public protection, Stephen Savage, said: "I can confirm that until April 15, when civil parking enforcement is implemented in Newcastle, people who park in disabled bays and other areas like loading bays and taxi ranks cannot be prosecuted."
The complication arises because the council has replaced police signs and markings with its own – meaning that officers can no longer legally enforce the regulations. But the council cannot implement fines either because Government rules state it must give six weeks’ notice of its intent to do so.
Last night, Mr Savage urged drivers to act responsibly.
"There are obvious moral issues here," he said. "Just because people can park in these places it doesn’t mean that they should. It is irresponsible to do so as it affects business and quality of life in the city and directly impacts on vulnerable people in our community.
"Imposing penalties on people who do park in these areas is not a revenue-raising exercise, or something we do out of spite. We do it evenly and without prejudice because it is our job to keep this city moving and make sure people have a convenient, safe and legal place to park."
The Department for Transport confirmed it expected the council to have the necessary powers by April 15.
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