Friday, May 21, 2010

CPZ High Court case ... view from the Gallery

The report below has been forwarded from an interested observer in the public gallery...

"What is intriguing about the whole affair and of course the JR is the route taken by the 'official' side and the dumbing down of the legal requirements.

To have a QC, the Treasury Solicitor and Sunderland Barristers sing from the same hymn sheet that CPZ's must be allowed to have zig-zag lines and crossings in, it is 'common sense' when large areas of restriction apply actually flies in the face of the advice and guidance recently issued by the Secretary of State for Transport.

The Secretary of State made it clear that CPZ;'s were only intended to cover up to 12 streets to avoid drivers being confused and forgetting what the restriction is.

Additionally, a CPZ is only there to reduce the number of signs that are put up in tandem with a single yellow line as all other bays etc effectively stand on their own signing.

So here we had the Crown arguing against their own government guidance and in addition saying that whilst the law is precise in relation to signing, you don't need 'lawful' signs to inform a driver what restriction applies.

The 'official side' were trying to tell the High Court that it isn't signs that give effect to a Traffic Regulation Order yet the legislation makes if very clear it is.

In all the hubbub and guffawing by the Crown they forgot one main thing.

The case against Sunderland revolves around an Adjudicator that erred in law in that the signing was 'extensively' flawed throughout the area and in areas where the Secretary of State had agreed the format of non-prescribed signs, the highway authority ignored that written agreement once it was signed - thereby voiding the special authorisation.

In all of this and as pointed out by Neil's QC, Mr Jones, the 'official side' had agreed the content of Neil's expert witnesses Mr Bentley's report, Mr Sauvaign had agreed Mr Bentley was right but did not agree with the outcome.

Sunderland had agreed the content and findings and had implemented many of the modifications recommended to make certain non-prescribed areas lawful.

In all of this, the official side had dropped the ball and were running with a baton that had effectively nothing to do with the case.

Having the High Court accept Mr Bentley's report and findings unopposed if not universally agreed, it is difficult to see how they could forget what they agreed, but they did.

QC for the Adjudicator became extremely angry and there was effectively a spat because the Court was reminded of the report, its content and the official sides acceptance.

It seemed to me that the official side decided to play rugby on the football pitch during the FA cup final and at the end of the day, they only then noticed that the ball they should be playing with was round!

And in conclusion, it was clear (regardless of the findings or political outcome), the Judge got it! "

Peter H

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