Sunday, February 14, 2010

Misleading parking signs removed

Hampshire County Council introduced new parking restrictions at Fleet in May 2006 and put up pairs of parking notices of their own invention which contradicted each other and confused drivers.
So misleading were the signs that the local press immediately picked up the story after angry drivers complained ...

New signs confuse motorists

May 25, 2006
by Stephen Lloyd
SHOCKED drivers were hit with fines totalling nearly £2,500 in just two days after falling foul of
new town centre parking restrictions.
More ...

Contrary to the Department for Transport’s very clear Traffic Signs Manual, they didn’t include an essential yellow line on the road with a yellow plate to show when parking was prohibited. For reasons impossible to understand, despite the DfT having told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee that there were already “too many examples of signs that are so confusing that drivers find it difficult to comply with them”, and contrary to DfT’s own Signs Manual they approved the signs arrangement which has confused thousands of drivers for nearly four years.

The issuing of PCNs immediately rocketed to outrageous proportions, as one shopkeeper said at the time the easy ticketing of parked cars was like shooting fish in a barrel.

"Ticketing of Parked Cars was like shooting fish in a barrel"

Instead of immediately abandoning the signs which amounted to the blatant entrapment of thousands of drivers misled into believing they had at least 30 minutes parking at any time of day – which is exactly what the parking notice shows – the council persisted with these pairs of signs which they knew to be hopelessly ineffective and why.

Local campaigner and committee member of the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund, Peter Ashford, who has fought a running battle with Hart District Council and the county council for nearly four years to have the ineffective signs replaced recently won a parking appeal when representing a local victim of the signs, Jon Louch, at what the tribunal described as a test case.

The local press reported last week ...

Council's £300,000 risk for 'misleading' parking signs
By Stephen Lloyd
February 04, 2010
CONTROVERSIAL parking restriction signs in Fleet town centre are misleading, a national adjudicator has ruled.
It follows two appeals in which drivers have had their £70 parking fines thrown out.

Mr Ashford said: “The adjudicator agreed that the 11-fold increase in penalty charges issued after the unsatisfactory parking signs came into operation was more than enough indication that the signage was not effective.”

Peter Ashford repeatedly provided the council with evidence that the signs were misunderstood by most drivers (including a parking adjudicator’s statement that they were confusing) but he was systematically rebuffed by officers and councillors, one of whom (then responsible for parking) wrote that the council cannot take advice from members of the public!

The adjudicator of the recent appeal, Hilary Tilby, quoted at length from a February 2008 communication in which the county council admitted their full knowledge that drivers were confused by the ill-conceived parking signs. She agreed that the 11-fold increase in penalty charges issued after the inadequate parking signs came into use was more than enough indication that the signage was not effective.

She found that the council had failed to implement signage that was clear and not ambiguous and she also criticised the DfT for failing to deal with the fact that the signs they had approved for use in Fleet Road “were clearly not doing the job”.

The adjudicator’s conclusion was, what the councils had always known, that “the parking signage was and remained misleading”.

On receipt of the appeal decision the council immediately removed one of each pair of notices leaving just the loading notices to make each parking bay into a part-time loading bay, but they have failed to mark the road as Loading bays – guaranteed to continue misleading the motoring public.

It is now quite clear that this was more about raising revenue than managing kerbspace and there should be a full independent investigation. In the meantime, if anyone who has had a PCN at this location contact the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund

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