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Caught out by a 'suspended' parking bay


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The missus got done (again), this time parking in a parking bay that previously allowed up to 20 mins free parking for drive-by shopping. She's previously used this bay on numerous occasions without incident, but didn't notice that on this occasion the right to free parking was suspended. I'm sure she's not alone in getting caught out in this way, and yes, she made an assumption based on previous experience, and ignorance of the 'law' is no excuse, etc etc. Based on those considerations, I told her it's unlikely any appeal would succeed. Even so, this looks like a blatant trap specifically designed to catch out the unwary. Any comments from the experts plse? Is it worth bothering, or just put it down to experience (again)?

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It's worth trying an appeal, even if the chances aren't great. Provided you get your appeal in within 14 days, you will retain the discount payment option if it is rejected, so nothing to lose.

 

You haven't given any substantial info here. I presume the bay suspension was clearly signed? Was she actually within the suspended bay? Was the suspension definitely in force at the time?

 

And what was the contravention code on the PCN? Are there any mitigating circumstances? Does she use a blue badge?

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I 'assumed' this was a no-hoper, and was gonna be advised to that effect, so yeah, light on info. But since you ask (and thanks for taking the trouble), here goes:

 

1. PCN states 'The CEO believes that a penalty charge is payable as the vehicle was:

21 Parked in a suspended bay or space or part of bay or space.

 

2. Signage - The usual sign was covered by another sign that said (to the best of her memory) 'Suspended for Morrisons campaign, 17-18th Dec. 2013.

 

3. Circumstances - No blue badge. In mitigation? Arguable. Firstly, there's the question of its availability for time-limited free parking on days outside of the 2 day suspension period. The sign was behind her, and based on previous experience, she had no reason to look back. Nothing to draw her attention or raise suspicions that anything was untoward. It's a 2-car bay, and she parked in front of a car that must also have been 'done'. The bay is nowhere near Morrisons, which has its own free car park, so we're not quite sure what the sign is supposed to be about. Perhaps an intended advertising hoarding for Xmas, who knows? Whatever this campaign was, there was no evidence of it at the time of this contravention.

 

4. Under these circumstances, I would argue that it is unreasonable to expect an unwary shopper to check the sign every time this bay is used when you have used it previously with no problems, and had no reason to believe that a suspension was in force. I somehow doubt that will cut much ice with our local revenue raising agency though.

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Unfortunately the motorist IS expected to check every time! It's easy to miss the signs, but that won't really work as an appeal, on its own. That doesn't mean you have no hope of having the PCN cancelled though.

 

The council should have some photos, including one of the sign (they aren't obliged to take photos but they usually do). It would be worth asking for a copy of a photo showing the sign, and if possible posting it up here, as it might not be a proper bay suspension sign. It sounds a bit iffy to me - so worth checking out. If it's not a proper bay suspension, the PCN would have to be cancelled.

 

In the event that they can't supply a photo, could you ask them to verify that the bay actually was officially suspended that day - the person on the phone might say "yes, it must have been" - but you need to get a definite answer. Let us know what you find out.

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Hmm, interesting - thanks Jamberson. Bexley tend to be on the ball when it comes to compliance with parking enforcement regs, etc., so I'm not holding out much hope that they've slipped up here. Even so, guess it doesn't hurt to check it out. But for my info., what constitutes an 'official suspension'? As for requesting a photo from them, what if I short-circuit that process by taking a photo myself & post it for your perusal? The offending bay is only a half hr walk, and if nothing else, at least I'll get the benefit of some exercise!

 

EDIT: Yeah, I take your point about being expected to check every time. Personally, I always do after being bitten once, but 'er indoors seem to need several more lessons about the downside of making assumptions.

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Any photo would do,so by all means one of your own if poss.

 

By official suspension, I mean one that the council implemented. It seems a bit odd to me that there would be a sign mentioning Morrisons. I don't think they usually have an explanation on them of why a bay is suspended - I am wondering if someone did this themselves rather than through the council, in which case there is no suspension and no contravention. It might well be a proper suspension but I think it's worth asking the council to confirm.

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Well, the PCN is from Bexley Council, so it's a fair assumption that the suspension is an official one. It would be strange if they were enforcing an unofficial sign, would it not? But you are right even so - we both thought the sign (providing its wording has been accurately reported/remembered) was a bit odd as far as the justification of the suspension was concerned.

 

So ok, I have other business to take care of at the same time in the area, so I'll take my camera with me and post up later today.

Edited by Beesnees
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The enforcement is probably being done by a contractor, not by the council themselves. They would have issued the PCN "on behalf of" Bexley Council. It is unlikely that their CEOs carry around knowledge of all the current parking bay suspensions - could be that he just saw the sign and acted on it. Or, I might be completely wrong.

 

I'll look at the image later and tell you what I think.

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Unfortunately not. This PCN is defo council stationery, not 'issued on behalf of.....'. It's got the council name plastered all over it in a 2-toned background, as well as their name & coat of arms at the bottom. I don't think there's any getting out of the fact that this is the real thing, otherwise I might have had some hope of a successful appeal. Would it help if I post a scan of this as well?

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UPDATE Just got a 'slightly' modified version of the wording from the missus after another visit today. To the best of her memory (which is subject to correction by a photo if still relevant), the sign now reads 'CAPPAGH Morrisons Waterworks 17-18th Dec'. She's not entirely sure about the acronym at the start, but I doubt that would make much difference to the validity of the sign. So it's the construction company that is being referenced here, not the supermarket chain, which makes a lot more sense.

 

Throws a slightly different light on matters, & now more or less renders this thread a lost cause, does it not? I don't want to waste anymore of your time, but I think she'll have to bite the bullet on this one. The only point left worthy of comment is that there was no sign of any such works either yesterday or today, but not holding out much hope that that constitutes any grounds for an appeal. Agreed?

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This was always a bit of a long shot, but no I don't agree that the mention of Cappagh changes things. It still might be bogus.

 

Have you tried typing the words Bay Suspension Sign into Google, and looking at the images it returns? They are what a bona-fide suspension sign should look like. Bright yellow, and yes, some of them do have a reason stated as to why the bay is suspended. Maybe your wife could take a look and make an educated guess whether the sign she saw was an official one, and not something the construction company put up for their own convenience (and which would be completely unenforceable).

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Even curiouser. She swears the sign was white. If that makes a difference, then hope still lives. No, haven't googled it, but will do so soon as I've popped down myself to take a pic. Unfortunately, now in darkness, and sign may even have been removed by now, but still worth a try on the off chance.

 

A suspension in force for just 2 days (just long enough to catch a few unwary shoppers without arousing too much suspicion), and no sign of any 'waterworks'. Something not quite right about this. The whole thing stinks.

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A suspension in force for just 2 days (just long enough to catch a few unwary shoppers without arousing too much suspicion), and no sign of any 'waterworks'. Something not quite right about this. The whole thing stinks.

 

I'm sure you would be less happy with a free bay being suspended for several weeks just to do 2 days work? The water company books the suspension, its not really the Councils fault if the decide not to turn up, or they may have even turned up and not beeen able to do the works because someone didn't bother checking the sign and left their car where the hole was meant to be dug.

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True enuf green&mean, & ironically the same comment I made to 'er indoors. It wouldn't put me out tho - don't think I've ever used this bay in my entire life. Academic now anyway. Those signs look kosher to me, and you'd have to be blind to miss them, but then assumptions have a habit of making you oblivious to what's staring you in the face. I'm pretty sure this is the end of the road (pun intended) as far as any valid grounds for appeal go. I'll post up just as soon as I can work out how.

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Yep. They do look like the right signs. I very much doubt you'd find anything wrong with the suspension itself. It was worth being sure though.

 

You could still try an appeal if you wanted, on the basis of a genuine mistake, but it's not likely to succeed unfortunately.

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Nope, time to throw in the towel. Hardly worth the candle really, & was resigned to coughing up on this one from the outset anyway, so no real surprise at the outcome. Still, it was worth pursuing up to a point just to make sure it was bona fide. Win some, lose a sum. Thanks again for the help & advice fellas.

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