By Julie Magee
HUNDREDS of motorists stung by parking fines after being caught on film by Bournemouth council’s camera car could receive refunds after a landmark legal ruling.
A tribunal has ruled that unless local authorities have put up signs warning drivers the ‘spy cameras’ are in operation, tickets are invalid.
A camera car scheme was launched in Bournemouth on June 17 to target drivers who park at bus stops and outside schools. Warning signs were not erected.
In the past seven weeks 370 drivers, including disabled Southbourne man Roger Ryder, were caught parking at bus stops.
Eleven motorists were captured on camera parking at school entrances. Each received a £70 fixed penalty notice through the post.
Retired businessman Mr Ryder, 65, didn’t realise his red Jaguar had been photographed on July 7. He said: “I popped into the Co-op store in Tuckton for a newspaper – there wasn’t anywhere else near the shop to park.
“I was shocked when the fine notice dropped through my door. I paid it within a couple of days so it cost me £35 instead of £70, which is the penalty if you don’t pay within 30 days.
“I’ll definitely be appealing, now I know what has happened elsewhere. There weren’t any signs saying the camera car was operating in the area and I think that is wrong. Motorists should be warned.”
The ruling came after businesswoman Rachel Johnson received three £70 parking fines in the same week after being snapped by a ‘spy camera’ in Merseyside.
Ms Johnson, 34, who runs an off-licence, challenged Wirral Borough Council and took her case to a Traffic Penalty Tribunal. All three fines were quashed.
The tribunal ruled that the tickets were invalid because of the lack of signage warning motorists they might be photographed.
The ruling could open the floodgates for thousands of other appeals from motorists across the UK.
Following the case Wirral council launched a review into the way it uses its ‘spy car’ to enforce parking regulations.
Bournemouth council confirmed yesterday that there are no signs warning motorists of the camera car but stressed that the vehicle was marked with “camera enforcement signage.”
Head of transport James Duncan said: “We believe that all the signage associated with the Traffic Regulations Orders in Bournemouth meets with the requirements but keep everything under constant review. The tribunal decision related to a different situation; we do not use the camera car for that purpose. In Bournemouth we do not currently use the vehicle in stationary mode, unlike the case in Wirral.”
He added that the council would not be issuing any refunds.
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