11 September 2013

Saracens zone - an alternative guide

Given that 403 parking tickets were showered onto cars in the Saracens Event Day CPZ zone on the first Saturday of the season Mr Mustard thought you might find it useful to read this long explanation by an adjudicator of why he allowed an appeal and cancelled a parking ticket. Mr Mustard finds it funny that the motorist tried to throw in the towel but because his letter didn't reach the adjudicator the case was heard anyway and the motorist won! There is no point in withdrawing from a PATAS appeal because it costs you nothing (unless you have been wholly unreasonable, vexatious or frivolous in defending which seems very unlikely).

Mr A's appeal was scheduled for a personal hearing at 10.30 am today. However by 4 pm he had not attended the Hearing Centre or made contact to explain his absence.

The letter sent to Mr A by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service informing him of the date and time of the hearing contained the following warning: "If you fail to attend the hearing, the Adjudicator will determine the case on the basis of the evidence that both you and the Enforcement Authority have sent in, and you will be notified of the decision by post".

I am aware that on 23 August 2013 Mr A. contacted the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service and indicated that he would be writing in to withdraw his appeal and that he would pay the Enforcement Authority. However no such withdrawal letter has been received, and consequently I must treat this as a live appeal, and decide it on the merits, and on the basis of the evidence submitted by both parties.

In this case Mr A's car was parked on a single yellow line (as shown in the photographs taken by the Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) at the time this Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued, but not, curiously, in the site image produced by the Authority for the appeal).

However it was on a Sunday, and he complained to the Authority that there were no signs visible to warn him (and the many other motorists who had also parked in the street) that parking was restricted.

The Authority say that the street was subject to event day restrictions, because of a match at Saracens rugby club, and that signs warning of the restrictions did not have to be placed in individual streets, but only at the entrances to the restricted zone. They have produced parts of a Traffic Management Order which supports their contention that there are restrictions from 1 pm to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays in this street on event days.

Regulation 18 of the Local Authorities' Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England & Wales) Regulations 1996 requires a Local Authority to provide and maintain signs to "secure that adequate information as to the effect of the (Traffic Management) order is made available to persons using the road". This requirement involves an assessment not just as to whether the form of any individual sign or road marking complies with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, but also as to whether a signing scheme as a whole meets the criterion of providing "adequate information". This assessment has to take into account the circumstances which exist at any particular location, such as the existence of other signs, sightlines, foliage etc, or even the way other vehicles are likely to park.

Where an Appellant makes it clear that he does not believe that this requirement has been met, the burden falls on the Authority to satisfy the Adjudicator that it has. This is normally done by the production of plans and/or photographs showing the signs and/or road markings which were in place when the PCN was issued, and their relationship to each other and to the Appellant's vehicle.

In this case the Authority have simply asserted that there were zone entry signs indicating the event day restrictions. However they have not produced any evidence of the kind referred to above, e.g. a map showing the extent of the zone, where this street fell within it, the location of zone entry signs and photographs showing examples of the zone entry signs.

Without this evidence I am unable to judge whether the requirement imposed by the 1996 regulations has been met, i.e. whether a motorist in Mr A's position would have been given adequate warning of the restrictions that applied. The adequacy of the signing is all the more significant where the restrictions are temporary and occasional. It is not enough to inform Mr A after the event that he could have found out about the event and the restrictions on the Saracens website.

In the absence of clear evidence from the Authority I cannot be satisfied that the signing of the relevant restrictions was adequate, and so I must allow this appeal.

Barnet Council will now need to automatically refund Mr A.

If you have an Event Day PCN include in your apopeal that the zone was not properly signed and then the council will have to prove that it was.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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