18 August 2018

Gross incompetence

The 18T weight limit sign is clear enough

No enforcement authority sends representatives to the tribunal more often than Southwark. Mr Mustard doesn't fight many Southwark PCNs but expects to see one or two representatives when he does. They are always happy to chat, and good at what they do and Mr Mustard always enjoys it when they turn up & a good clean fight ensues. Honours are pretty even so far.

Now it may be that on the day in question that none of the, at least 4, regular representatives were available but more likely Mr Mustard thinks they realised they were going to lose so didn't waste time attending. Mr Musatrd suddenly thought to check the register. There were two other cases decided on 22 June which were attended between them by 3 different representatives of Southwark Council so staff were available. Bwak Bwak Bwaaak.

Here is the decision which was made on 22 June.
At this scheduled personal hearing the appellant Company were represented by Mr Scott Sharkey but the Enforcement Authority did not attend and were not represented. The Enforcement Authority had previously indicated that they would be attending but have today contacted the Hearing Centre to say that no one will attend.

A contravention can occur if a vehicle is driven so as to fail to comply with a prohibition on certain vehicles.

There appears to be no dispute that the vehicle was in Tower Bridge Road, as shown in the closed circuit television (cctv) images produced by the Enforcement Authority.

The Enforcement Authority state in their case summary “It is not permitted for a vehicle which has a MGW [maximum gross weight] of 18 tonnes to drive through a restriction prohibiting vehicles with a MGW of 18 tonnes, regardless of whether the un-laden weight is lower than the restriction. The line is drawn at the MGW to avoid drivers guessing whether their load at that time is below the restriction and posing what could possibly be a detrimental effect on the road network.”

This is wholly incorrect. The sign at the location shown in the images produced by the Enforcement Authority is a permitted variant of that prescribed by Diagram 622.1A at Item 13 in Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 for the restriction that goods vehicles exceeding the maximum gross weight indicated are prohibited.

Indeed, this complies with the A100 GLA Road (Weight Restriction) Traffic Order 2003, Article 4 of which provides that except as provided in Article 6, no person shall cause any goods vehicle the maximum gross weight which exceeds 18 tonnes to enter or proceed in the lengths of road listed.

The plating certificate, a copy of which was supplied to the Enforcement Authority by the Appellant Company and the original of which I have been shown today, confirms that the gross weight of this vehicle is 1800 [kilograms] which is 18 tonnes. (18,000 kilos?)

The Enforcement Authority further state in the case summary “The vehicle had a forklift truck on the back on the vehicle which exceeds the weight limit.” Again, this is incorrect. The gross vehicle weight includes all parts of the vehicle and everything carried on or it in. This is what the term ‘gross’ means.

Considering all the evidence before me carefully I find that the Appellant Company have no case to answer and the Enforcement Authority have failed to show that a contravention could have occurred.

This appeal must be allowed.

Unsurprisingly, the Appellant, a truck company, applied for costs.
Regulation 12(1) of the Road Traffic (Parking Adjudicators) (London) Regulations 1993¸ being the relevant provisions in this regard, provides that the adjudicator shall not normally make an order awarding costs and expenses against any party. The Adjudicator can only make such an award if he is of the opinion that that party has acted frivolously or vexatiously or that his conduct in making, pursuing or resisting an appeal was wholly unreasonable; or against the local authority, where it considers that the disputed decision was wholly unreasonable.

I decided this substantive appeal by making findings of fact and applying the law as it stands.

At the original personal hearing the Appellant Company’s representative made a detailed application for costs in the sum of £199, being £142 for the return fare from Swindon of the representative who attended the hearing that day and three hours preparation for the case, being £57 at the rate of £19 per hour allowed to a self-represented litigant under rule 45.39(5)(b) and rule 46.5(4)(b) of the Civil Procedure Rules.

Regulation 12(2) provides that an order shall not be made under paragraph (1) against a party unless that party has been given an opportunity of making representations against the making of the order. Accordingly, on 25 June 2018 the Enforcement Authority were informed of the application in order to make representations. They have failed to make any.

For the reasons fully set out in my original decision I found that the appellant Company had no case to answer and the Enforcement Authority had failed to show that a contravention could have occurred.

Considering everything before me carefully I find that resisting this appeal was wholly unreasonable.

According, I award costs in the sum sought of £199.

That should make Southwark Council more careful in future.
What they had done was to reject a perfectly reasonable challenge.
Then they opposed a perfectly reasonable Appeal to the tribunal.
They ducked out of the hearing.
They caused an employee to lose most of a day's work travelling to and from Swindon.
They didn't oppose the granting of costs but disrespectfully to the tribunal, did not say so.
Southwark Council got what they deserved.

Professionalism in parking? A long way to go.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


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