24 March 2013

Pay-by-phone put to proof at PATAS

what we want, meters that take coins & cards

Pay-by-phone parking has been controversial since it became, in effect, the only way to pay (vouchers and paypoint are not fast enough). Before then, when offered as a choice, it was OK. Cash is a universal medium which it should still be possible to use at the point of parking i.e. in a meter.

The following case from PATAS the home of the independent adjudicator shows that it is worthwhile for you to put the council to prove as to how pay-by-phone should have worked and how it was explained to you. You can appeal on the grounds that the instructions were not clear or not available to you at the parking place. Make the council prove their case. This one is reference number 2130000659. Just before the hearing at PATAS, at least 3 working days before your hearing date, the council has to send its evidence to you and to PATAS. If you have put the instructions for payment into question then the council should prove the rules and the signs. If they don't put that into the evidence pack you can send and email to PATAS adding this absence as a further argument to your case. The more arguments you put forward the more likely you are to win.

The appellant attended the hearing before me. He reiterated the statements made in his representations and Notice of Appeal. Basically he claims that payment of the parking charge was made and so he denies the contravention. He admits that he was subsequently made aware that the payment had been made in respect of his wife's vehicle and not his vehicle. He has detailed the steps taken upon parking in order to make the payment.

The Authority has produced a copy of Penalty Charge Notice, as well as the contemporaneous notes recorded by the civil enforcement officer.

The appellant basically claims the information given on the pay by phone system is not clear, he states that his wife was asked by a recorded message whether she wanted to use "the account", he said that she assumed this referred to something akin to a payment account and not to the vehicle registration mark. He said that at no point in the process was his wife informed of the vehicle registration mark against which payment was being taken.

The Authority is under a duty Regulation 18 (1) of the Local Authorities' Traffic Orders (Procedure)(England & Wales) Regulations 1996 to ensure that the motorist is given adequate information as to what is required in order to comply with the restrictions.

The Authority has not produced any evidence as to the instructions given to motorists wishing to use the pay by phone system. The Authority has produced no evidence as to the steps the motorist should have taken in order to pay by phone for this vehicle as opposed to the other vehicle. The Authority has produced no evidence to show whether there are any written instructions on a sign plate informing the motorist of what he is required to do in order to pay by phone. On the evidence I cannot be satisfied that at the time of payment motorists are clearly informed that the payment made is being registered in respect of a particular vehicle registration mark. The burden is on the Authority to show that they have complied with their obligation under Regulation 18.

I allow the appeal.

Dealing with an appeal to PATAS is not hard. Their appeal form is simple and you will have already advanced your arguments to the council. All you need to do is summarise them, Mr Musatrd likes to put in numbered lists if there are several points of appeal, and refer to the documents so as to make it simple for the adjudicator to follow. When you get the evidence pack from the council go through it and see if anything is missing or wrong and bring that to the attention of PATAS straightaway (no need to tell the council). You can email them.

You have nothing to lose by appealing. If you win that is it (the council can ask for a review but that is very rare) and if you lose you can ask for a review if the adjudicator has missed something or you can take it on the chin and you get 28 days to pay the original charge of £60, £110 or £130.

Mr Mustard is writing a guide to appealing and will release it in stages as it progresses.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

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