Monday, May 31, 2010

Why didn't the Department for Transport Act?

The recent consultation below resulted in amendments to various definitions at Regulation 4 of TSRGD 2002.
The Department for Transport was fully aware that Local Authorities were not complying with the strict definition and were creating big, wide area CPZs which contained restrictions other than those defined strictly at Regulation 4.

They were fully aware that this matter was before the courts and had required clarification since Scarborough in 2004.

The simple question is why didn't they take the opportunity with this consultation to expand the definition of a CPZ to include other parking prohibitions such as zig zags and Bus Stop Clearways ... or were they quite happy with the definition, especially since it was reinforced at Annex E of the Operational Guidance.

They took the trouble to amend the definitions listed below but not the one defining a CPZ.


Traffic Signs (Amendment) Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2010

3) Amendment of regulation 4 – Interpretation - general

• The definition of a "designated lane" has been added in order to permit broader use of the solid white line marking to diagram 1049 which currently indicates the boundary of a priority lane for buses or cycles. This allows for the implementation of other priority lanes such as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

• The definition of "enforcement agency" has been added to cover any future change of name for the ‘Vehicle Inspectorate’. The name has already changed to the "Vehicle and Operator Services Agency" (VOSA), and could change again in the future.

• The definition of "equestrian crossing" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• The definition of "maximum laden weight" of a vehicle has been amended as the reference to the "construction and use requirements" in section 41(8) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 was incorrect and should have stated section 41(7).

• The definition of "portable signal-controlled pedestrian facility" has been added. The required signs and signals are stated as are the optional carriageway markings.

• The definition of "signal-controlled pedestrian facility" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• The definition of "Toucan crossing" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• A definition of "traffic officer" has been added to take account of the role played by the Highways Agency’s traffic officers in maintaining traffic flows on all-purpose trunk roads, where they are required to give instructions to the public which may infringe traffic prohibitions or directions.

Why no change to the definition of a CPZ?

In the current consultation there appears to be no mention of CPZs ... an ideal opportunity to correct matters that the DfT have been aware of since 2007 in relation to the arguments raised in my case.
They have sought to amend other definitions at Regulation 4 however.

3) Amendment of regulation 4 – Interpretation - general

• The definition of a "designated lane" has been added in order to permit broader use of the solid white line marking to diagram 1049 which currently indicates the boundary of a priority lane for buses or cycles. This allows for the implementation of other priority lanes such as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

• The definition of "enforcement agency" has been added to cover any future change of name for the ‘Vehicle Inspectorate’. The name has already changed to the "Vehicle and Operator Services Agency" (VOSA), and could change again in the future.

• The definition of "equestrian crossing" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• The definition of "maximum laden weight" of a vehicle has been amended as the reference to the "construction and use requirements" in section 41(8) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 was incorrect and should have stated section 41(7).

• The definition of "portable signal-controlled pedestrian facility" has been added. The required signs and signals are stated as are the optional carriageway markings.

• The definition of "signal-controlled pedestrian facility" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• The definition of "Toucan crossing" has been amended to include the permitted use of the new nearside repeater signal.

• A definition of "traffic officer" has been added to take account of the role played by the Highways Agency’s traffic officers in maintaining traffic flows on all-purpose trunk roads, where they are required to give instructions to the public which may infringe traffic prohibitions or directions.

CPZ consulation in Oxford ...

25 streets and the majority of residents opposed yet look at the attitude of the council officers below.

Controlled parking zone one step away from approval
Oxford Mail
Monday 22nd March 2010

COUNCIL officers have recommended a proposed £297,000 controlled parking zone (CPZ) in the Magdalen Road area of East Oxford should go ahead, despite opposition from residents.
Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport, Rodney Rose, will decide whether to approve the residents’ parking scheme on Thursday. If passed, the restrictions will come into force in spring next year.

From November to January, the council sent questionnaires to all 1,726 homes in the Magdalen Road area, and 511 packs to every property in Iffley Fields, which will not now be included in the scheme.

The council received 565 responses.

In the proposed CPZ area of 25 roads, 61 per cent of respondents objected to the proposals and in Howard Street, on the edge of the proposed zone, 91 per cent objected.
In Iffley Fields, 54 per cent of respondents wanted their area excluded from the CPZ.
Consultation over the proposals has been going on for more than two years and campaigns have been organised on both sides of the debate.

Supporters of the scheme hope it will end parking problems and stop commuters leaving their vehicles in the road.

Head of transport Steve Howell wrote in the report: “Although the scheme is obviously controversial, officers consider that the benefits, in terms of the scheme’s overall objectives, would outweigh the ‘disbenefits’ raised by respondents.”

Cllr Rose said: “We don’t put in CPZs for the fun of it. If people want them we do a proper consultation and hopefully the majority will get what they asked for.”

Show me the Money ...

We have never lost an Edinburgh case ... and the Edinburgh Traffic Regulation Orders are currently being 'regularised.'

What needs to be remembered here is that we are talking 'law enforcement' on the streets of Edinburgh and other towns and cities. How long before the Police have to issue fines to become 'self-financing.'

£15m of profit for parking wardens
By PAUL THORNTON
The Sun

THE country's most feared traffic wardens last year raked in a profit of almost £15million, it emerged yesterday.

Edinburgh's infamous parking attendants delivered £40,000 a day for the city council through fines and charges.
But last night motoring groups blasted the profits as "obscene" - and called for local authorities to ditch plans to hike the cost of fixed penalties.
Councils announced in March they needed to raise the standard fine to £100 to cover rising costs.

But Hugh Bladon, of the Association of British Drivers, said: "They claimed it had become impossible to self-finance parking operations - but this is clearly nonsense.
"Councils must accept they shouldn't be making obscene profits at the expense of motorists."


Seven councils took over parking enforcement from the police in 1991.
Last year Edinburgh pulled in £20.1m through fines, pay-and-display tickets and permits.
Just £5.5m was paid to NPC, the private firm hired to run parking in the city.
Glasgow raised £5.5m, Aberdeen £1.3m and South Lanarkshire £465,000.





Read more: Raking it in ... traffic wardens
Warden assault is an ‘outrage’
CAR rental driver sacked for knocking a parking warden’s hat off is fined for the attack
Patients blast parking wardens
20,000 parking tickets a MONTH
Wardens' two fines a minute

NSL up for sale ...but what's it worth?

Car clampers coin it
Ben Marlow
The Sunday Times
May 30, 2010

Clamping cars and handing out parking tickets is about to pay off handsomely for the owners of NSL Services, a company that has been put up for auction for about £130m. NSL is being sold by 3i, the private equity firm. Senior managers have a small stake in the business. It clamps cars and issues tickets for council and private-sector clients, including Arsenal football club, where it manages parking around the Emirates Stadium.

The company was originally part of National Car Parks, for which 3i paid £555m in 2005. Two years later, the buyout firm split the company and sold the larger off-street car parks business to Australia’s Macquarie Bank for £790m, retaining NSL. The deal upset the trade unions, which accused 3i of asset-stripping the business.

The private equity firm also tried to sell NSL separately but pulled the deal because it couldn’t get the price it wanted. Several rivals were interested at the time, including Mitie, the outsourcing company, and Apcoa, Britain’s biggest provider of car parks and parking enforcement services.

NSL Services has deals with about 60 councils, including Westminster, as well as Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and sporting venues such as Twickenham and Murrayfield. Alongside the traffic-wardens business, NSL operates six London bus routes and runs a debt-recovery arm. It also has a network of CCTV cameras.

Hawkpoint, the corporate- finance boutique, has been appointed to find a buyer. NSL’s most recent accounts, for the year ending 2008, show it had accrued losses of £23m on turnover of £148m.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Are zones effective or unwieldy?

The extract below comes from:
THE JOINT REPORT OF THE PARKING ADJUDICATORS FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
APRIL 2008 TO MARCH 2009

The Department for Transport Traffic Signs Review

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (S.I. 2002 No.3113)
apply to both Wales and England. In consideration the next version of TSRGD
English Ministers decided it was opportune to undertake a review of road signs,
with particular attention to whether it is necessary for there to be so much
prescription, the impact of road signs on the environment, and to reconsider
precisely how much signing is required to make contraventions of traffic orders
enforceable.

A Steering Group was set up which includes a representative from
WAG as well as The Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, who has
also been asked to Chair the Enforcement Working Group.

It is crucial that there is full involvement from representatives from Wales,
because of the potential consequences of adopting different signing in England,
and the consideration of the impact of new ideas on sign that must be written in
two languages.

It is inevitable that considerable attention is being given to parking signs and
lines, with particular thought being given to the effectiveness of zones and
whether that principle should embrace more parking imperatives, such as
footway parking, or whether the entire concept of zones is too unwieldy and not
readily understood by motorists.

Following on from the initial meetings and setting up of the three working groups
research will be commissioned by the DfT to examine independently some of the
proposals under consideration.

There will be formal consultation, but the DfT welcomes all input from those who
have an interest or experience of signing. The British Parking Association (BPA)
Welsh Special Interest Group is also looking at the proposals that have been put
forward so far to ensure that considerations for Wales are kept at the forefront of
the Review.

Unlawful Traffic Regulation Orders in Brighton ... Massive National Implications

The significance of these two cases will become apparent in the coming weeks and is likely to impact on many councils across the country as they too have followed the same 'industry standard' rather than lawful process for creating TROs.

As many council officers read this they will start checking their TRO drafting process and realise that they too have been wrongly advised.

If there is no lawful TRO then no financial liability arises. Makes Mr. Moss's challenge against Bolton and their refusal to refund monies to motorists fined unlawfully all the more interesting.

BH05833K
One provision in the TRO subjected the entire length of Buckingham Street to a
no waiting at any time restriction (double yellow lines). Another provision sought
to superimpose a residents-only permit scheme operating between 9am and
8pm. Parts of the road were marked with parking bays and the remainder with
double yellow lines. The PCN was issued under code 01 to a permit holder who
parked half in a bay and half on the double yellow line.
Held: The restriction could not be enforced. The TRO as drafted did not achieve
the council’s intentions. The two provisions were mutually inconsistent,
confusing and differed from the street signage. Indeed the effect of resolving the
conflict would be to subject the parking bays to the double yellow line restriction
outside the hours 9am and 8pm. This, clearly, could not be right; the bays were
intended for permit holders only between 9am and 8pm and for everybody at
other times.
Appeal allowed.

BH06312B
Exactly the same point arose and the adjudicator followed the decision in
BH05833K. The council sought to distinguish the two cases on the facts and the
provisions of the TRO were again considered in detail by the reviewing
adjudicator.
Held: The TRO was defective and ambiguous. The adjudicator made it clear
that the objection was not to the provision of a hierarchy of layered provisions in
principle, merely to the way the council had gone about it in this particular TRO.

He said: “As is referred to in the definition of a CPZ the Council are entitled to
provide parking places such as these in a road which has an underlying NWAAT
restriction. However it is the manner in which the Council have sought to
achieve this by the TRO that is the issue in this and similar cases.”

Appeal allowed

How many councils have illegal CPZs? How many consultations were flawed?

Flawed consultations. Big, unwieldy CPZs. How many councils ignored Annex E of the Operational Guidance to Local Authorities on Parking Policy and Enforcement?
How many will pay the price for being reckless and indifferent towards their legal responsibilities. No-one is above the law and, as Justice Bean stated, when referring to the consequences of a local authority failing to comply:
" Let the heavens fall and justice prevail."

The High Court case has shone a very bright spotlight on the parking enforcement industry and council's behaviour in particular, especially when it comes to raising hard cash from enforcement. There is a great deal more to come ...

What must also be borne in mind is that Kingston Council were one of the four London Boroughs who added an unlawful credit card surcharge to their PCNs. That matter is also before the High Court in Camden v The Parking Adjudicator next month. The argument regarding the lawfulness of the credit card surcharge was ours and the Chief Adjudicator agreed with the point that this rendered the PCN unlawful.

Should Camden lose there will be far reaching consequences financially as they too will have been unjustly enriched and will have to refund the money.

CPZ ruling could cost Kingston Council
Friday 28th May 2010

By Clare Buchanan »
This week, campaigner Neil Herron, is taking Sunderland Council to the High Court in a bid to abolish Britain’s Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). Successful or not, the consequences could prove momentous to Kingston’s residents and roads.

Nearly a quarter of Kingston’s roads are marked as CPZs, and in 2009-10, 42,426 parking fines were issued in the borough.

Mr Herron argued that large CPZ, such as Kingston’s, are not only misleading and confusing for drivers, but also unlawful, resulting in fines which he argued were invalid.

He said: “The council has a duty to comply with the law, which states CPZs should be 12 streets or less. The bigger and bigger CPZs do not comply with the law.”

Without CPZs it is likely that the roads of Kingston would turn to chaos.

Councillor Dave Ryder-Mills said: “The main problems would be in the town centre, where originally CPZs were introduced to give protection to local residents so that they had a hope to park. They would be the ones who suffer, and there would no doubt be several knock-on effects.”

If Mr Herron is successful, the £2,030,413 raised by Kingston Council from parking fines in the year 2008-9, could be overturned, with local residents lining up to pocket the money.

Kingston’s current parking fines range from £30 to £100 per offence. While some have said these are necessary to enforce parking laws, others suggested the fines were stealth taxes for councils to make more money.

Mr Herron, who faces 39 penalty notices, has re-mortgaged his home, put his car, adorned with yellow lines and a personalised F1NED numberplate for sale and set up Parking Appeals ltd, in his one man bid to “decriminalise British parking”.

Mr Herron said: “Justice has to come. Where there is a heavy price we have to stand up and be counted, it is down to members of the public and local media to stop this disturbing state of affairs.”

Mr Herron’s sacrifices are just a small part of the funds necessary for the controversial test case, in his crusade to reform Britain’s parking laws.

Coun Ryder-Mills said: “Hopefully we have reached the limit with the CPZs, however there is always pressure on the next road and the next road to extend. Perhaps we will be able to start to make CPZs limited in time, for example Norbiton road is now limited between certain times.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neil Herron and Parking Appeals Ltd. v The Parking Adjudicator

Neutral Citation Number: [2010] EWHC 1161 (Admin)
Case No: CO/9104/2008
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
25/05/2010
B e f o r e :
MR. JUSTICE BEAN

Between:
NEIL HERRON

PARKING APPEALS LIMITED
1st Claimant
2nd Claimant
- and -
THE PARKING ADJUDICATOR
Defendant

SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL (1)
PARKING AND TRAFFIC APPEALS (2)
TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL (3)
NCP SERVICE LIMITED (4)
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT (5)

Interested Parties
____________________
Alun Jones QC and Rupert Bowers (instructed by Jeffrey Green Russell) for the Claimant
Ian Rogers (instructed on behalf of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal) for the Defendant
Stephen Sauvain QC and Jonathan Easton (instructed by the Solicitor, Sunderland City Council) for the City Council
Jessica Simor (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State

Hearing date: 18 May 2010 ____________________
HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT____________________
Crown Copyright ©

Mr. Justice Bean :

1.
Neil Herron is a director of Parking Appeals Ltd, an organisation which in its own words, "advises, assists and campaigns on behalf of motorists". In 2006 one vehicle of which Mr. Herron was the registered keeper and another (whose registration number was changed to F1NED) of which the company was the registered keeper were parked on a total of 39 occasions on single yellow lines in Frederick St or St. Thomas St within the Sunderland city centre Controlled Parking Zone ("CPZ"). Penalty Charge Notices ("PCNs"), better known as parking tickets, were issued in each case alleging that the vehicle concerned had been involved in a parking contravention, namely that it had been "parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours".

2. Mr. Herron and the company did not pay the penalty charges. The traffic authority, Sunderland City Council, therefore issued in each case a Notice To Owner requiring the registered keeper either to pay the penalty charge of £60 or to make representations. Mr. Herron made representations asking for the PCNs to be cancelled. The Council refused to cancel them. Mr. Herron further challenged the PCNs by lodging appeals with the National Parking Adjudication Service ("NPAS", now known as the Traffic Penalty Tribunal).

3. The hearing before an adjudicator, Mr. Andrew Keenan, began on 12th September 2007. Mr. Herron produced 11 lever arch files of documents in support of his case. He also called an expert witness, a Mr. Bentley, who presented a report consisting of 156 pages. A large number of points were raised, including an attack on the independence of the NPAS and its adjudicators. The hearing continued on 20th November 2007. By a 45 page judgment dated 26 February 2008 Mr Keenan dismissed the appeals, save in one case where he directed the Council to cancel the PCN. Mr. Herron applied for a review and on 30 June 2008 another adjudicator, Ms. Kennedy, directed that Mr. Keenan's decision should stand and that the appeals should therefore remain dismissed.

4. This claim was issued on 25th September 2008. The Claimants sought judicial review of the decisions of Mr. Keenan and Ms. Kennedy on a number of grounds, one of which was that the NPAS infringed the Claimant's Convention right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in breach of Article 6 of the ECHR. They also sought a declaration that "the Sunderland Controlled Parking Zone does not comply with Regulation 4 and Direction 25 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD)", and that "all single yellow line waiting restrictions contained with it are unenforceable". By an amendment to the Claim Form they further alleged lack of adequate reasoning in relation to Regulation 4 of the TSRGD.

5. At an oral hearing on 15th June 2009 Keith J refused permission for judicial review on the Article 6 and "lack of reasoning" grounds but granted permission on the question of statutory interpretation of Regulation 4 and Direction 25. He said:

"Although I am very sceptical about the correctness of the approach to the legislation which the Claimants advance, I cannot say that it is so unarguable that a full hearing to consider it is unwarranted."

The statutory regime

6.
By section 1(1)(c) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 the traffic authority for a road outside Greater London may make a traffic regulation order where it appears to the authority expedient for facilitating the passage on the road of traffic. By section 2(2)(c) such a traffic regulation order may include a provision prohibiting or restricting the waiting of vehicles or the loading and unloading of vehicles. There is no dispute that many years ago Sunderland City Council made traffic regulation orders which restricted parking in Frederick St and St. Thomas St, among other locations, and designated a substantial area of the city centre as a CPZ. The CPZ appears to have been established in about 1969.

7. Section 5(1) of the 1984 Act provided that contravention of a traffic regulation order was an offence. The Road Traffic Act 1991 provided for a decriminalised parking regime, with penalty charge notices of the kind used in the present case, where an order has been made extending the decriminalised regime to the area in question. A PCN may then be issued where a vehicle has been parked in the relevant area in circumstances such that a criminal offence would have been committed but for the decriminalisation order. Again, there is no dispute that a valid order has been made (SI 2002/3266) bringing the decriminalised regime into force in Sunderland city centre. (I was told that the relevant provisions of the 1991 Act have been repealed by the Traffic Management Act 2004 in respect of PCNs issued on or after 31 March 2008. This amendment does not affect the present case.)

8. Regulation 18(1)(a) of the Local Authorities Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 requires the traffic authority to take such steps as are necessary to secure that, where a traffic regulation order has been made relating to any road, traffic signs are placed and maintained "on or near the road… in such positions as the order making authority may consider requisite for securing that adequate information as to the effect of the order is made available to persons using the road."

9. The definition of "traffic sign" in section 64 of the 1984 Act includes not only objects such as traffic lights, but also lines or marks on a road conveying a prohibition. Section 64(2) requires that traffic signs shall be of the size, colour and type prescribed by regulations. Section 65(1) says that the traffic authority "may cause or permit traffic signs to be placed on or near a road, subject to and in conformity with such general directions as may be given" by the appropriate Ministers.

10. The TSRGD is a 447 page book containing regulations, directions and a large number of diagrams. Direction 25(1) provides that, subject to direction 25(2), certain road markings may be used only in conjunction with, and on the same side of road as, certain upright signs. The all too familiar single yellow line, diagram number 1017, may only be used in conjunction with one of five upright signs, the one relevant to the present case being that shown in number 639 which has the prohibited hours (for example 8am to 6pm) shown in black against a yellow background with a no waiting sign and an arrow. Direction 25(2), however, provides:

"Paragraph (1) shall not apply to a road marking placed on a road within a controlled parking zone if signs shown in diagram 663 or 663.1 [upright signs saying "controlled zone" or "voucher parking zone" with a no waiting sign and indicating the prohibited hours] have been placed at the entrances for vehicular traffic into the zone, except where the road marking is placed to indicate restrictions different from the restrictions indicated on those signs."

11.
It can be seen that the effect of Direction 25 is to create a general rule that a yellow line restricting parking must be accompanied by an upright sign, but to allow an exception in a CPZ. The question I have to decide is whether the area including Frederick St and St. Thomas St was a lawful and effective CPZ. This turns on Regulation 4 of the TSRGD, the interpretation section, which defines a CPZ as follows:

"….an area (i) in which, except where parking places have been provided, every road has been marked with one or more of the road markings shown in diagrams 1017 [single yellow line], 1018.1 [double yellow line, indicating no waiting at any time], 1019 [no loading or unloading at certain times] and 1020.1 [no loading or unloading at any time]; and (ii) into which each entrance for vehicular traffic has been indicated by the sign shown in diagram 663 or 663.1…)." [There is an alternative definition which does not apply.]

12.
Nothing turns on the entrance signs requirement in subparagraph (ii) since there is no suggestion of failure to comply with it; nor on diagrams 1019 and 1020.1 relating to loading and unloading, since these are not in practice used independently of single or double yellow lines. The Claimant's case is that the prohibitions in a controlled parking zone can only be enforced if every part of every road has been marked with either parking places, a single yellow line or a double yellow line.

13. There is no dispute that there were single yellow lines on the road at the locations in which Mr. Herron parked in Frederick St and St. Thomas St. The Claimant's case, however, is that a departure from the strict terms of Regulation 4 anywhere in the CPZ means that the area ceases to be a CPZ as defined by that regulation.

14. In the skeleton argument on behalf of the Claimant settled by Michael Caplan QC the main example relied on was the approaches to pedestrian crossings, where (as required by the TSRGD) there are white zig-zags which prohibit not only waiting and stopping, but also overtaking. In oral argument Mr. Alun Jones QC relied not only on this, but also on defects, for example in relation to the delineation of specific parking and loading bays, elsewhere in the CPZ. Mr. Jones was prepared to concede that a de minimis exception might apply where a yellow line had faded over a very short stretch of road some distance from the relevant location, and perhaps also where a yellow line had not been repainted for a very short time after the completion of road works; but otherwise, he submitted, the rule is an absolute one. If the CPZ includes any part of any road which has no single or double yellow line and which is not a parking bay, the entire CPZ is invalidated.

15. Mr. Jones sought to bolster what might otherwise seem a surprising submission by reference to an operational guidance document issued by the Department of Transport in March 2008. This says at Annex E, paragraph E5:

"The Secretary of State's view is that motorists cannot reasonably be expected to read, understand and remember the parking restrictions at the entrance to a Controlled Parking Zone that covers an area of more than a dozen streets. CPZs rely solely on zone entry signs to give times of operation and to remove the need for time plates within the zone, except on lengths of road where the restrictions apply at different times to the rest of the zone. The area of a CPZ should, therefore, be restricted to, for example, a town centre shopping area. A single zone covering a whole town, or suburb of a conurbation would be much too large. Conventional time plate signing, without zone entry signs should accompany the yellow sign markings where large areas have waiting restrictions. Time plates are not necessary where there are double yellow lines."

Mr. Jones submitted that the larger the CPZ, the greater the risk of confusion. If traffic authorities designate large areas as CPZs and in consequence fall foul of the technical interpretation of Regulation 4 for which he contends, he argued, they have only themselves to blame.

16.
But this is not a challenge to the designation of a substantial part of central Sunderland as one CPZ. We are about 40 years too late for that. Moreover, there is no evidence of confusion, either individual or general. Mr. Herron knew perfectly well that on each of the occasions in question he was parking on a single yellow line during restricted parking hours. There is no evidence of more general confusion either. I accept that there is a risk in the case of a large CPZ of a motorist forgetting the exact hours indicated at the entry point by the time he reaches his parking place. But that risk is neither increased nor decreased by the presence in the zone, otherwise than at the location where he parks, of pedestrian crossings with white zig-zags on the approaches, or parking bays with defective delineation.

17. Mr. Keenan had his attention drawn to a number of such features or defects in places within the CPZ other than where Mr. Herron had parked. He found that they "should be considered trivialities which could not mislead a driver who parked on a clearly marked restriction." That is a finding of fact with which I cannot interfere, and which seems to me in any event plainly correct.

Authorities

18.
In Davies v Heatley [1971] RTR 145 the appellant motorist had been convicted of crossing continuous double white lines in the middle of the carriageway at a bend in the road. Contrary to the diagram set out in the Regulations the double white lines had an intermittent white line between them, and the distance between the two continuous white lines was also incorrect. Lord Parker CJ said:

"One asks, therefore, here, whether this was the prescribed sign. I thought at one point that it might be said that the older intermittent line on a sensible approach forms no part of the double white line sign, that it is old and it is just not completely rubbed out, but, as was pointed out, even if one assumed that it was subtracted and formed no part of the line itself, the distance between the two continuous white lines is a long way different from that prescribed by the Regulations. Accordingly, as it seems to me, and apart from authority, much as one sympathises with the approach of the Justices it is impossible to say that an offence was committed."

19.
In that case the defect was more than trivial and was at the very spot where the alleged offence was committed. Similarly, in O'Halloran v DPP [1990] RTR 62, another double white lines case, the mandatory warning arrow at the beginning of the sequence had been omitted. Again, the motorist's appeal to the Divisional Court succeeded; but the defect was in or very close to the relevant location. In French v Dover District Council, Case no. DD05005E, 8 January 2007, by contrast, the Chief Parking Adjudicator, Caroline Sheppard, held that where the defect was in a different location from the one where the motorist had parked it could be treated as immaterial. I agree with that decision.

20. In the Claimant's Grounds annexed to the Claim Form, Mr. Caplan QC cited some observations of the late Professor Glanville Williams:

"The ancient rule was that penal statutes are to be construed strictly… on the theory that the legislature must make its intention clear if it proposes to have people punished. The rule was important at a time when many crimes were punishable by death, but it has not necessarily lost all its value in these more lenient days."

21.
I am prepared to assume that a statute, regulation or direction which permits the issue of a penalty charge notice must be construed strictly, in the sense that where there is a genuine ambiguity in the language used the motorist is entitled to the benefit of the doubt in interpreting it. But that does not mean that it has to be construed so literally as to produce an absurd result. The question "did the draftsman of the Regulations and Directions intend that the presence of a pedestrian crossing within a CPZ should render the zone wholly ineffective?" only has to be asked for the answer "of course not" to be obvious.

22. Mr Sauvain QC, for the City Council, pointed out that if one is going to adopt a truly literal construction of the definition of a CPZ in Regulation 4, it does not support the Claimant's case. The requirement is that every road must be marked with a single yellow line, double yellow line or parking bays. It is not that every part of every road has to be so marked. That is a possible construction of the regulation, but Mr Sauvain did not advance it as his primary case, and I do not accept it.

23. In my judgment regulation 4 on its proper construction means that every part of every road in a CPZ, other than a parking bay, must be marked with a single or double yellow line (with or without the "loading and unloading" equivalents), except where an alternative parking prohibition is marked out such as that imposed by the zig-zags on the approach to a pedestrian crossing. Furthermore, I consider that any non-compliance, whether accidental or (if I am wrong on the previous point) arising from the presence of an alternative parking prohibition, is immaterial if it is too far from the location of the particular motorist's contravention to have led him or her into error.

24. In Canadine v DPP [2007] EWHC 383 (Admin) Sir Igor Judge P, as he then was, said:

"It is something of a relief to be able to conclude that an appeal, so entirely based on technicality, and so utterly devoid of merit should be dismissed."

25.
Despite Mr Jones' elegant presentation of the Claimant's case I conclude that it, too, is entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit. The application for judicial review is dismissed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Press Reports High Court CPZ Case ... BBC Wear

Neil Herron loses Sunderland parking battle at High Court
BBC Wear
25th May 2010

CPZ signs - at each end of a zone - are said to reduce street clutter
If you want to understand the significance of Neil Herron's defeat in the High Court you need to understand Controlled Parking Zones.

Don't all run away at once - you might be grateful next time you park in one.
Here is BBC Wear's handy guide to what they are, how they work and whether it's worth arguing about getting a ticket.
It all revolves around technicalities - technicalities that the judge called "trivialities".
Neil Herron, a former market trader from Sunderland, first came to public attention late in 2000 over the issue of metric measurement.
He helped his friend, Steven Thoburn, challenge a prosecution for selling fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces, the offence being that he didn't have the metric scales required.
Technicalities or trivialities?
Since 2000 Mr Herron has transformed into something of a parking campaigner.
His current challenge - to Controlled Parking Zones, or CPZs - went all the way to the High Court.
Again, the issue revolved around a technicality.
An important technicality, said Mr Herron, since the result of infringement is "penal" and, he claimed, councils rely on the confusion to make money out of parking fines.
His over-strict interpretation of the rules, said Sunderland City Council and the Department of Transport, flew in the face of common sense.
On May 25 2010 Neil Herron lost his case and was told by the judge that it was "entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit".

Neil Herron took his case to the High Court in London
What Mr Herron claimed:
The zone in Sunderland city centre is so large that it confuses drivers with its signs and is unlawful
The council relies on this confusion to make money out of parking fines
Penalty charge notices issued against him for parking on single yellow lines in the zone are unenforceable because, technically, there should be no road markings at all within a CPZ
In law, CPZs don't even exist but are "creatures of statute" and, in order to be enforceable, should comply with rigidly laid down road marking regulations
In order to meet the definition of a CPZ, there must be no road marking whatsoever within them, except signs indicating parking spaces and yellow lines
The presence of any other road markings at any point in the CPZ - including zig-zag lines or yellow bus stop clearways - render the entire CPZ invalid
Controlled Parking Zone rules
Entrance and exit signs show the hours during which all on-street parking is controlled
Parking is only permitted in designated parking spaces, the remainder of the kerbside is subject to yellow line restrictions
Single yellow lines prohibit parking during the hours of control, double yellow lines prohibit parking at any time
Some single yellow lines have signs showing different, usually longer, operation times
Parking during the permitted hours may be free or charged
What Sunderland City Council claimed:
Mr Herron's interpretation of road signage rules flies in the face of common sense
Legislators could not have intended the rules to be read thus
If this strict interpretation of the regulations was right a single pedestrian crossing marked on the road could invalidate a vast CPZ
The case could affect the legitimacy of parking tickets issued across the country in other "over-sized" CPZs and lead to thousands of motorists applying to have parking fines quashed
They vehemently dispute the accusation that local authorities rely on the confusion generated by the zones to make money out of parking fines
Their CPZ is being operated lawfully and drivers are being given the necessary information over where and when they can park

Technicalities or Trivialities?

The law is based on technicalities ... that is why the DfT spent so much effort drafting the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions in 2002 and the various Chapters of the Traffic Signs Manual.


Did the draftsmen of the Operational Guidance to Local Authorities on Parking Policy and Enforcement state that CPZs should be 12 streets or less just for the fun of it? Here is Annex E of that Guidance and it sets out the DfT's position explicitly.


So why is it that councils would wish to ensure that motorists didn't have adequate information as to the times of operation of single yellow lines in a CPZ (bearing in mind that the majority of single yellow lines in the country are 'out of force' for the majority of time in a 24 hour period)?


Could it be that there is more chance of a motorist being confused in a large CPZ and therefore issued with a PCN?


Could it be that greater confusion leads to more PCNs and a greater income?


It would be a brave Judge to publicly slap every council for 'giving it large' when it comes to CPZs. So, ask yourself what the DfT are prepared to do to ensure councils comply with their Guidance?


Their response was to throw all their resources at defeating the challenge by bringing in the Treasury Solicitors to argue that 'common sense' should be applied.


Is the British motorist afforded the same luxury of 'common sense' when a minute late back to a meter or an inch over a yellow line? Of course not and until the law is applied equally the fight for a fair deal for the motorist will go on.



Neil Herron loses Sunderland parking battle at High Court
BBC Wear
25th May 2010

CPZ signs - at each end of a zone - are said to reduce street clutter
If you want to understand the significance of Neil Herron's defeat in the High Court you need to understand Controlled Parking Zones.

Don't all run away at once - you might be grateful next time you park in one.

Here is BBC Wear's handy guide to what they are, how they work and whether it's worth arguing about getting a ticket.

It all revolves around technicalities - technicalities that the judge called "trivialities".

Neil Herron, a former market trader from Sunderland, first came to public attention late in 2000 over the issue of metric measurement.
He helped his friend, Steven Thoburn, challenge a prosecution for selling fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces, the offence being that he didn't have the metric scales required.

Technicalities or trivialities?
Since 2000 Mr Herron has transformed into something of a parking campaigner.
His current challenge - to Controlled Parking Zones, or CPZs - went all the way to the High Court.

Again, the issue revolved around a technicality.
An important technicality, said Mr Herron, since the result of infringement is "penal" and, he claimed, councils rely on the confusion to make money out of parking fines.
His over-strict interpretation of the rules, said Sunderland City Council and the Department of Transport, flew in the face of common sense.

On May 25 2010 Neil Herron lost his case and was told by the judge that it was "entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit".

What Mr Herron claimed:
- The zone in Sunderland city centre is so large that it confuses drivers with its signs and is unlawful
- The council relies on this confusion to make money out of parking fines
- Penalty charge notices issued against him for parking on single yellow lines in the zone are unenforceable because, technically, there should be no road markings at all within a CPZ
- In law, CPZs don't even exist but are "creatures of statute" and, in order to be enforceable, should comply with rigidly laid down road marking regulations
- In order to meet the definition of a CPZ, there must be no road marking whatsoever within them, except signs indicating parking spaces and yellow lines
- The presence of any other road markings at any point in the CPZ - including zig-zag lines or yellow bus stop clearways - render the entire CPZ invalid

Controlled Parking Zone rules
- Entrance and exit signs show the hours during which all on-street parking is controlled
- Parking is only permitted in designated parking spaces, the remainder of the kerbside is subject to yellow line restrictions
- Single yellow lines prohibit parking during the hours of control, double yellow lines prohibit parking at any time
- Some single yellow lines have signs showing different, usually longer, operation times
- Parking during the permitted hours may be free or charged

What Sunderland City Council claimed:
- Mr Herron's interpretation of road signage rules flies in the face of common sense
- Legislators could not have intended the rules to be read thus
- If this strict interpretation of the regulations was right a single pedestrian crossing marked on the road could invalidate a vast CPZ
- The case could affect the legitimacy of parking tickets issued across the country in other "over-sized" CPZs and lead to thousands of motorists applying to have parking fines quashed
- They vehemently dispute the accusation that local authorities rely on the confusion generated by the zones to make money out of parking fines
Their CPZ is being operated lawfully and drivers are being given the necessary information over where and when they can park

High Court battle ... first round lost

The Judgment will be posted shortly but and an analysis of the implications will follow.

However, what was quite clear is that a 'technical argument devoid of merit' caused such consternation that all the forces of the establishment rallied against the little guy taking on the system.

What must be borne in mind is that Sunderland City Council cancelled over 100 PCNs before allowing a case to go to adjudication.

Then, for the hearing before an informal tribunal they brought in the country's leading QC at great public expense for a handful of PCNs.

When the case finally got to the High Court not only did Sunderland instruct junior and Leading Counsel but there were legal teams for the Traffic Penalty Tribunal AND from the Treasury Solicitors representing the Secretary of State for Transport ... all for a case devoid of merit.

The Judge however, refused costs for Sunderland bringing in Leading Counsel.

It is now understood that The Motorists Legal Challenge Fund www.motoristslegalchallenge.co.uk is to put out a call for funds to assist with an appeal and pledges of support are starting to flood in.

Thanks to all who have supported the David v Goliath battle to expose the lawlessness that passes for parking enforcment on the streets of Britain today.

A battle lost, the war still to be won.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another legal challenge involving parking

The spotlight shining on this lawless, unaccountable industry is getting brighter and it is only a matter of time before matters are properly exposed with the full glare of publicity.


Legal challenge halts Westminster parking deal
Nick Appleyard

21 May 2010

The bidding process for the biggest local authority parking contract in the UK has been halted by a last-minute legal challenge. Mouchel has disputed Westminster City Council’s decision to award the £50m contract to rival parking firm NSL Services. The council has already had to defend its conduct during the long-running process, after it received heavy criticism from the Labour opposition, which called for a full explanation of the ‘mismanaged fiasco … revealing serious failures’.


The council was accused of spending more than £1M trying to award the contract, which was initially awarded to Mouchel, before being revoked and reopened for tender. Sources close to the negotiations then revealed to The MJ that NSL Services was the preferred bidder but Mouchel contested this on the final day of a ten-day cooling off period.

NSL is the firm formerly known as NCP – the incumbent operator of the council’s parking contract. The council’s cabinet member for parking, Cllr Danny Chalkley, has already stepped down from his role to be replaced by Cllr Lee Rowley. But Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour leader in Westminster, said people must still be held accountable for ‘this very unsatisfactory and expensive fiasco’. ‘We are calling on the new cabinet member to wipe the slate clean, scrap the charging of motorcyclists and call a summit of all those stakeholders involved in parking to flesh out a sensible approach. ‘Whether Cllr Chalkley was dropped or has jumped, it cannot hide the fact Westminster parking is in tatters and needs new direction, instead of being used to prop up the council’s finances.’

Cllr Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster City Council, demanded Mouchel ‘see sense’ and drop the challenge which he branded ‘unfounded and misconceived’. ‘We believe it will be dismissed by the high Court. However, if they persist on pursuing this course of action it will inevitably cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in officer time and council resources spent defending the claims. This is all the more pressing at a time of planned deep cuts across the public sector.’

The council's approach to procurement has already been tested in the High Court, which threw out a claim by Apcoa for an injunction earlier in the year. The council is confident this challenge will be similarly unsuccessful.

Herron v The Parking Adjudicator ... High Court Case Decision

This will be handed down in the High Court on Tuesday 25th May 2010 at 9.45 am.

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

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Neil Herron on BBC's The One Show with Dominic Littlewood



Précis of the BBC 1 One show item (above) Thursday 13th May 2010

10 million parking Penalties Charge Notices are issued to drivers every year to a value of £328 Million !!

But 165 illegally-issued PCNs are cancelled every day which shows that there is a great deal wrong with the way parking enforcement is operated.

Neil Herron who won massive national support as one of the two “Metric Martyrs” has been campaigning for fairer parking enforcement for 5 years at a cost to himself of some £90,000

He is arguing in a High Court Judicial Review against some decisions of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal which, although claimed to be impartial and independent of the councils who enforce parking restrictions, is paid for by Manchester City Council from monies provided by all the enforcing councils.

The primary issue before the Court is the law governing the operation of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) to be found in many in cities where many of them are not set up and operated in accordance with the law.

Neil Herron’s argument is that the operation of all parking enforcement should be transparent, fair to motorists and lawful which it very often isn’t.

He argues that when councils issue PCNs, often for more that £100 t a driver returning just one minute late of being just one inch over a yellow line council itself must obey the law laid down by parliament themselves. Many councils have not been and are still not obeying the law.

Neil Herron is arguing the details of a CPZ in his home town of Sunderland where massive corruption in their parking enforcement was made public a couple of years ago. The only information on parking restrictions in a CPZ is shown on a notice as you enter the zone which is required not to enclose not more than 12 streets (otherwise drivers won’t remember the restrictions which aren’t shown anywhere else. The Sunderland CPZ is massively too big.

After he walked for ten minutes into the zone with the reporter they interviewed on camera five drivers who had all forgotten the details of the parking restrictions and agreed that operation of the CPZ was completely unfair.

The law on traffic signs is set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions which sets out very clearly and easy to understand the law and rules that councils must follow before they can legally issue PCN.

Neil Herron has deliberately obtained about 120 PCN around the country to challenge them and expose the illegality of the enforcing councils. Most of them have been cancelled bu it is those that haven’t that are now being challenged in the High Court.

To fund his case he has had to remortgage his house. When asked if he was intimidated by the opposition to his campaign for lawful parking enforcement he replied the High Court is a scary place to be but the law is clearly on his side.

His Judicial Review is all about fairness to all of Britain’s motorists who have for many years been suffering what amounts to a stealth tax; he said it is about time someone stood up against it so that is exactly what he is doing.

The outcome of his case can affect millions of drivers and thousands of parking appeals that have been wrongly decided contrary to the law.

RAC reports on High Court CPZ case ...

Council in court over parking zones
RAC
20 May 2010 at 08:27

A former market trader has taken his local council to court over a number of parking fines that he says are unfair.
Neil Herron, 47, argues that the controlled parking zone (CPZ) in Sunderland is too big and confusing for drivers, leading to them being given fines that they should not legally have to pay.

If he wins at the High Court, the case could be used as a precedent against other councils, preventing them imposing similar fines on thousands of motorists caught in CPZs.
It could also mean that motorists across the country could argue against paying parking tickets.

Mr Herron himself wants the 39 parking notices against him, for leaving his car on single yellow lines, to be made unenforceable.

He is challenging rulings against him by the National Parking Appeals Service (NPAS) parking adjudicator. However, the adjudicator, along with Sunderland City Council, says the CPZ are lawful and could not confuse motorists about where they can and cannot park.

Before the hearing at London's Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Herron said: "We have been stealth-taxed for long enough and abused by councils who have paid scant regard to their legal responsibilities whilst ticketing motorists for the most minor of contraventions.
"Hopefully what we will now see is councils forced to comply with the law."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Press Coverage CPZ High Court Case ... BBC News

Sunderland parking fines 'crusader' at High Court
BBC News

Mr Heron claims parking charges are a stealth tax
A former "Metric Martyr" from Sunderland is taking his crusade against what he claims are "unlawful" parking fines to the High Court.

Neil Heron, 45, alleges Sunderland City Council set up a controlled parking zone (CPZ) without getting the necessary approval.
He said a victory could enable hundreds of drivers to contest penalty charge notices.
Sunderland City Council said it would not comment until after the hearing.

Mr Herron, from Sunderland, has spent more than £100,000 of his own money in a five-year battle to improve the status of motorists he said have been treated as "second-class citizens".

'Petty bureaucrats'
Speaking outside the court in central London, he insisted his battle was for "fair enforcement".
He said: "Councils have been using parking as a stealth tax - the more tickets they issue, the more money they get.
"We are not opposed to parking enforcement, but if councils do not comply with the law, then anything they do to fine motorists is unlawful."
He has claimed some councils have taken a "reckless approach" by fining motorists for being "an inch over the line" or being "one minute late back to the meter".

"We have petty little bureaucrats and officials who have seen an opportunity to impose a stealth tax on motorists and fill council black holes," he added.

His case is due to be heard by Mr Justice Bean.

Mr Heron was a supporter of so-called "Metric Martyr" Steve Thoburn who died in 2004, after being convicted for using scales showing only imperial weights to sell food from his greengrocer stall in Sunderland.

Press Coverage CPZ High Court case ... Daily Mail

18th May 2010

Neil Herron is fighting a crucial test case that could throw into doubt the validity of millions of pounds worth of parking tickets.
A crusading former market trader yesterday began a High Court battle that could 'blow apart' Britain's parking laws.

Neil Herron, one-time fishmonger, is fighting a crucial test case that if successful could throw into doubt the validity of millions of pounds worth of parking tickets and see thousands of motorists apply to have their fines overturned.

Mr Herron, 46, first sprang to fame as a metric martyr who led the successful campaign to stop the prosecution of British shopkeepers using imperial weights.

Now he has remortgaged his home and poured £100,000 of his own funds into a different fight: challenging the nation's parking regulations.

If he wins, it would 'effectively abolish' controlled parking zones - known CPZs - in towns and cities around the country.
The divorced businessman's battle began in his home city of Sunderland, where he is fighting 39 £60 penalty charge notices.

But he has become the figurehead for a national campaign against 'draconian' traffic enforcement.

Yesterday Mr Herron, wearing a pin-striped suit, arrived at London's High Court to take challenge the legality of CPZs, and as a consequence the validity of fines issued within such areas.
The father-of-two, who has been helped by donations from scores of fellow motorists, said he was 'David taking on Goliath' in a search for 'justice'.
'Councils have been using parking as a stealth tax - the more tickets they issue, the more money they get,'
he said.
'There isn't a motorist in the land who doesn't agree.'

The campaigning father-of-two's battle dates back to 2005, when he was alerted to question marks over parking rules and the first penalty charge notice was issued against him by Sunderland City Council.

He argues that the legislation which created CPZs is flawed as it states that every road must be marked with a single or double yellow lines, except where parking spaces are provided.
Therefore any CPZ zone which contains other markings like zig-zags, bus lanes, pelican or zebra crossings is unlawful, meaning parking tickets issued in that zone are invalid.

Alun Jones QC, for Mr Herron, said his client had taken his fight to the Parking Adjudicator, who had 'misconstrued' the meaning of a CPZ.
'This is a matter of general importance to local authorities and motorists all over the country,' said Mr Jones.

'Our submission is that Sunderland City Council and others have used the CPZ in an inappropriately wide way which results in a confusion to motorists.'
He added that the council itself had admitted that a 'significant amount' of income would be taken away from local authorities if Mr Herron was right.

Between 2002 and 2009 alone fines from parking on single yellow lines in Sunderland are estimated to have totalled £460,000.

Motorists, he said, were entitled to more 'clarity'.

He said guidance from the Department of Transport stated that motorists could not reasonably be expected to 'read, understand and remember' parking restrictions at the entrance to CPZs of more than 12 streets.

But despite that some controlled parking zones, in areas such as Sunderland, Bristol, Manchester, Westminster, Kingston and Birmingham, were much larger.
'There are inappropriately large CPZs which we argue will confuse motorists,' said Mr Jones.

He said a CPZ ceased to be valid when other markings such as pedestrian crossings, taxi ranks, and zig-zags were in place.
Judge Mr Justice Bean responded: 'This probably applies to every CPz in the country doesn't it?'

When Mr Jones agreed the judge added: 'If you're right the CPZ is effectively abolished.'

Later Mr Justice Bean added that if he accepted issues raised by Mr Herron's team 'I may be blowing the whole traffic regime to bits'.

Mr Herron is bringing his claim against the Parking Adjudicator, the national independent parking appeals service, with Sunderland City Council and the Secretary of State for Transport both listed as interested parties.

They insist the CPZ is still legal, even with other markings within it.
'There is no suggestion that any motorists was or was capable of being confused or unsure as to the nature of the parking restrictions that were before the adjudicators because of the existence of other types of signage elsewhere in the CPZ,' said Stephen Sauvain QC, for Sunderland City Council.

The case continues.

Press Coverage of CPZ High Court Case ...Daily Express



TRADER'S COURT BATTLE TO RIP APART BRITAIN'S 'UNJUST' PARKING RULES
Daily Express Wednesday May 19,2010
By David Pilditch
A CRUSADING market trader yesterday launched a High Court battle that could “blow apart” Britain’s parking laws.

PARKING: Neil Herron outside the High Court

Neil Herron, 47, is fighting a crucial test case which if he wins could throw into doubt the validity of millions of pounds worth of parking tickets. And it could see drivers applying to have fines overturned.

His lawyers argue that millions of tickets have been issued illegally in towns and cities. Local authorities were accused of unlawfully setting up a system designed to confuse drivers and generate huge incomes.

If successful it would abolish controlled parking zones – known as CPZs – around the UK.Mr Herron’s crusade to challenge the nation’s parking regulations began over a £60 parking fine issued five years ago.

He has spent £100,000 fighting the case, forced to re- mortgage his home in Sunderland and sell his £20,000 Nissan Navara car. But yesterday he insisted his “David and Goliath” battle was the only way to overturn Britain’s draconian parking legislation.

Standing on the steps of London’s Royal Courts of Justice, he said: “Many people have paid a parking ticket that they feel is unjust because of the potential cost of appealing it.“Effectively I have spent £100,000 on a £60 parking ticket but that is what it takes to make a stand on a point of principle.”

Mr Herron, who led the Metric Martyrs campaign to allow shopkeepers to continue to sell goods in pounds and ounces, is contesting 39 penalty notices issued by Sunderland City Council in a CPZ, which he claims is not being operated within the law.

The zones allow authorities to mark roads with single yellow lines without having to put up signs nearby stating when enforcement is in place. Instead, information is given only at the entrances to the zones.

Mr Herron’s barrister, Alun Jones QC, said that Department of Transport documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests supported their arguments that the special zones did not comply with the law because they are too large.

Mr Jones said confusion to motorists and generates a significant amount of income which would be taken away from local authorities if our submissions are right.“If people are not confused they won’t commit so many infringements and you won’t get so many penalties and enforcements.”

He told the hearing regulations state CPZs cease to be valid if they include other markings such as crossings and taxi ranks. Mr Justice Bean responded: “This probably applies to every CPZ in the country doesn’t it? If you’re right the CPZ is effectively abolished.”

The judge later went on to say that if he accepted issues raised, “I may be blowing the whole traffic regime to bits”.

Sunderland City Council insists the CPZ is legal. Stephen Sauvain QC, for the council, said: “There is no suggestion that any motorist was confused or capable of being confused or unsure as to the nature of the parking restrictions.”

He said there would be “severe adverse consequences” for local authorities if Mr Herron won. Mr Justice Bean reserved judgment until a later date.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today at the High Court ...

After a hectic day at the High Court just TalkSPORT left to do.

Just want to say thanks to everyone for their support from the legal team to everyone who has offered practical, moral and financial support and to the press and media for ensuring that the message got out there. You have all been fantastic. We stood toe to toe with the might of the establishment ... and their worried faces said it all.

Regardless of the way the decision goes we are witnessing the death throes of decriminalised parking as an out of control stealth tax on Britain's motorists.

To all the council officers and Government officials who believe in open, transparent and accountable government we thank you for your integrity, especially those who continue to provide evidence of the failings of others who fall way short of what is required from paid public servants.

A decision will be handed down in a week's time. Regardless of the outcome, the fight goes on.

Monday, May 17, 2010

High Court Case Herron v The Parking Adjudicator

DATE OF CASE: Tuesday 18th May 2010 Start 10.30am
LOCATION: Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London
COURT NUMBER: 72
JUDGE: Mr. Justice Bean

CASE NUMBER: CO/9104/2008
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

BETWEEN
R on the application of
NEIL HERRON
First Claimant
PARKING APPEALS LIMITED
Second Claimant
And
THE PARKING ADJUDICATOR
Defendant
SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL (1)
PARKING AND TRAFFIC APPEALS (2)
TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL (3)
NCP SERVICE LIMITED (4)
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT (5)
Interested Parties

Motorists Legal Challenge Fund Newsletter



Our Big Day In Court

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (18th & 19th May) sees Neil Herron's case in the High Court. It has taken almost 3 years to get this case before a Judge, but we are finally there. What is at stake is the correct and legal definition of a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ).
CPZs were originally designed for small areas of 12 streets or less, but local councils have abused them so much that they can now cover areas of 12 square miles or more, encompassing hundreds of streets.

The entry signs in some places have become so large and complicated that they are impossible to read - let alone remember - when travelling past at 30 mph (or even 20 mph). As a result, motorists are often not adequately informed about when and where they can lawfully park, which increases the risk of their receiving a parking ticket.

The Department for Transport has been concerned for some time about the misuse of CPZs by some councils, and the difficulties and unfairness it causes for drivers. Indeed, they even researched and fully understood the issues way back in 2005. More recently, the DfT along with the Institute of Highways Engineers have effectively declared CPZs as "not fit for purpose", but nothing has been done to clarify the situation.

Neil's case could do just that.

There is nothing private or secret about the courts, they are open to the public. If you want to witness the law in action and see how your donation money is being spent to try to bring justice for the motoring public, then turn up at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Are We Doing the Right Thing?
Why should it have become necessary for a single member of the public to bring a case at great financial cost against a local authority? After all, we have just been through an election to choose national and local representatives who are supposed to be responsible for holding civil servants and council officers to account.

The present system is not perfect and, if we have reason to believe that local authorities are breaking the law, as a last resort they can be held to account through the process of judicial review in the High Court as Neil is now doing.
Support for this process comes from a group of academics at the University of Essex who recently wrote a report entitled "Judicial Review Litigation as an Incentive to Change in Local Authority Public Services in England & Wales". (click here)

Don't be put off by the long title; it confirms that we are doing the right thing in supporting Neil’s case in the High Court, and their "research indicated that judicial review may actually help authorities to improve." They also make the point that "there are strong associations between the values of public service and fidelity to law, and both are intimately connected with the responsibility of local authorities to serve the public interest."
Put into our context, if local authorities fail to comply with national law, as too many of them don’t, then what possible right do they have to punish motorists who do not comply with their own local law?

For more information and to support the Motorists Legal Challenge click here

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Freedom of Information Request from DfT in relation to Scarborough's CPZ

This is the Freedom of Information request from former Police Officer Richard Bentley to the Department for Transport and the response from Ian Boddington.

In the public interest it has been reproduced in exactly the same format as it was provided by the DfT.

The only information 'missing' is believed to be the FIRST advice provided to Scarborough and North Yorkshire Councils from Stephen Sauvain QC. This advice was shared with Government officials and is understood to condemn councils who had not complied with the strict definition of a Controlled Parking Zone.

The DfT has refused to disclose this evidence to the High Court.


DfT FOI & Additional Evidence 1

CPZ High Court case on BBC's The One Show



... and for a simple overview of the High Court case see the BBC Six o' Clock News below (note this was first broadcast in 2008 BEFORE the High Court granted permission for a full hearing).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Investigation into Westminster's parking contract must leave no stone unturned ...

There needs to be a full, transparent investigation into the Westminster parking contract, leaving no stone unturned.


Parking enforcement and all issues surrounding it need to be addressed as a matter of urgency by the new Government otherwise the stealth tax stigma will be an albatross around their neck.

Parking enforcement needs to be perceived to be fair, proportionate and lawful and then perhaps it will gain the respect of Britain's motorists.

Check out the Motorists Manifesto for the Reform of Parking and Traffic Enforcement.

Revealed: ‘fiasco’ of Westminster’s parking contract
Lucy Tobin

14.05.10


If any of London's newly-elected councillors want a lesson in how not to run a contract-bidding process, they might like to take a field trip to Westminster.
The Conservative-run council has spent six months and more than £1 million trying to award a £50 million parking contract. After a long-running process that saw Westminster award the contract to a new firm, revoke the appointment, fight a law suit, and re-open the expensive tendering process for a second time, the Evening Standard can reveal it has now decided to stick with its incumbent parking company.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour leader in Westminster, today called for heads to roll over what he termed a “very unsatisfactory and expensive fiasco”.

The long-running process began at the end of last year when the council launched a procurement process for bidders to apply to run its parking contract. Then in February Westminster named Mouchel, the FTSE-listed support services group, as its preferred bidder for the four-year contract to provide parking enforcement services for the borough.

Mouchel then happily told shareholders at its half-year update in February: “It has been confirmed that we have been appointed as preferred bidder in Westminster, the largest on-street parking enforcement and city management service contract in Europe. The commission is for a four-year period (extendable to six).”

But not so fast, Mouchel. That was just the start of a near-farcical process which is said to have cost local taxpayers £1.1 million and has been branded “totally unprecedented” by perplexed contractors.

After naming the firm as its top choice, Westminster then admitted it had botched part of the procurement procedure. In-house lawyers discovered “a flaw in the contract document” which meant the council had to re-open the bidding. That admission then sparked complaints from one of the bidders, Apcoa of the US, one of the world's biggest parking enforcement companies.

Westminster then ran the entire tender again but with a new clause that effectively excluded Apcoa from bidding. Enraged, Apcoa launched a legal action to get the decision overturned but recently lost the case.

Now the Evening Standard has discovered that Mouchel has been stripped of its preferred status, with Westminster instead awarding that status to NSL, the parking giant formerly known as NCP, which has been operating the contract for the past seven years.
Mouchel insiders said they were furious at the action and may appeal. Apcoa is also expected to protest.

The preferred bidder status means NSL could be re-awarded the deal as early as next week.

Labour leader Dimoldenberg said: “This whole process has cost the council over £1.1 million. Now we find the original contractor has got the job. It's a ridiculous, crazy situation. Residents and motorists are entitled to a full explanation over this mismanaged parking contract. Somebody at Westminster needs to take personal responsibility for this very unsatisfactory and expensive fiasco which has revealed very serious failures.”

Campaigners called for an official inquiry into how the contract was awarded. Graham Jones, spokesman for the campaign group No to the Bike Parking Tax, said: “Westminster awarded the contract to Mouchel, then faced a legal challenge which was thrown out of court, so why did it not stick with its original decision? This scandal requires a council inquiry.”

Kevin Goad, Westminster council's head of commissioning, said: “Following the discovery of a flaw in the initial contract process we stopped the procurement exercise. This was to ensure we were being fair and transparent to all those involved in the process which was the right and legal course of action to take. This week, the council has named a preferred bidder for its new parking enforcement contract. We are currently in a ten-day standstill period and expect to sign the formal contract with them later this month.
“Any additional costs incurred through this process will be recovered many times over through substantial savings with the new contract.”

Tim Cowen of NSL commented: “We have noted the announcement that we are preferred bidder but would not wish to comment further because of the legal 10-day standstill period.”
An insider in the parking enforcement industry stalwart said he “couldn't record a process quite like this ever before”. He added: “We're now in tthe standstill period, when it would normally be very, very unusual for a challenge to crop up, but the rest of this case has been unprecedented, so who knows?”


The £50 million contract covers monitoring and maintenance of CCTV cameras to pick up illegal U-turns, illegal driving in box junctions and other parking offences. It also pays for the 100 or so parking attendants patrolling the streets of Westminster.

Danny Chalkley, Westminster's cabinet member for city management, did not respond to calls.

Another email from the DfT obtained under FoI

Sunderland City Council were granted Decriminalised Parking Enforcement powers after telling the Department for Transport in 2002 that ALL their lines, signs and Traffic Regulation Orders were correct.
The DfT were fully aware that there were many restrictions which were not lawful, and this had been confirmed by officials from the Government Office for the North East.
The DfT have chosen not to intervene as many motorists have been fined illegally. This document was obtained under FoI.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blog Archive


only search Neil Herron Blog