5 July 2014

Not seeing red

A stall at Lodge Lane Car Park - seeing Green

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was said to have been issue to Mr L's car alleging that it was parked in a restricted area within Lodge Lane car park. He says that the car was parked by his wife, and when he parked this car next to hers about an hour later he did not see any PCN on the first car.

It now transpires that he appealed to an Adjudicator about the ticket he received on the car that he parked, and that that appeal was allowed. The grounds of appeal in that case were the same as in this one, i.e. that the red lines which are supposed to demarcate the market (restricted) parts of the car park are so faded that the original white lines are showing through, making it impossible to know, particularly in the dark and when it was raining, whether or not a parking place lies within or without the restricted part of the car park.

I adjourned the case and asked the Authority to provide a map which showed where Mr L's car was parked within the car park, and which also showed the position of the parts said to be reserved for the market, and the position of all signs/timeplates to that effect. They were also asked to relate the photographs of the car taken by the Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) to the map and other photographs produced. I also asked Mr L to produce copies of the photographs he sent to the Authority with his original representations.

The Authority now concede that they cannot say where within the car park Mr L's car was positioned, as the CEO's photographs were so dark, but point out that photographic evidence is not a statutory requirement. In effect they say that the CEO had recorded that the car was parked in a restricted section of the car park, and that should be sufficient evidence for this PCN to be upheld.

Mr L has produced photographs showing an area where it is indeed clear that the red lines have almost disappeared, giving way to the original white lines underneath.

I can do no better than to quote from my fellow Adjudicator Mr Chan in his decision:

The Authority said that photographs are not a legal requirement. This might well be the case but where an Appellant has alleged poor signage, a respondent Authority risks a direction that the PCN must be cancelled unless it produces evidence of adequate signage. The Authority has accepted that some of the red paint has worn away. It can see from the CEO's photographs that there was an issue with lighting condition. Instead of providing photographs under similar conditions to show how visible the lines would have been, the Authority produced images of the car park in broad daylight and when the ground was dry. Further, the date on which these images are taken is not identified. There is therefore little to no evidence which would enable me to conclude that the signage was adequate when the Appellant parked his vehicle.
In this case the Authority have no way of showing where within the red zone Mr L's car was parked. As it is clear that significant areas of the red markings have worn away to the point that they could not be relied on as adequate signage, and given that Mr L implies that his car was within one of those areas, I cannot be satisfied that the signage of the restriction that he is said have breached was adequate.

I therefore allow this appeal.

If it was dark it is most likely that the PCN was given out after the market had packed up and gone home for the day and so this PCN doesn't regulate traffic but simply becomes a means of trying to raise money for the Council. If you have a parking ticket from Lodge Lane Car Park Mr Mustard has some other arguments to use apart from the council's inability to prove their case.

Don't pay your PCN, look at the photos online and consult with mrmustard@zoho.com

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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