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4 weeks ago, back in March, I parked in a parking bay designated only by a single solid white line. This was in a busy but small street in a nightlife area of central London.

 

Before I left home I had checked for on street parking in the vicinity on the internet, including the local council's own website as I wanted to avoid any restrictions, etc.

 

There was onstreet parking provided further down the same street (which was all taken), but I wasn't sure if the two empty bays were restricted or not. So before I left my car I walked up the street in both directions looking for any parking restriction signs or 'time plates'. 2-3 metres away from my car there was a fenced off area of road works along the edge of the road extending for about 10 metres and scaffolding on the pavement.

 

 

There were two temporary parking signs right by these roadworks: one tied to a lamppost and another tied to the scaffolding. They appeared to be suspending or restricting parking where 2 residents' parking bays had used to be, where the road works were taking place. They referred to this parking being opposite a junction, i.e. where the road works were. The two empty parking spaces started at least 2 metres further down the street, away from the junction. There was no sign or time plate on the street right opposite the parking bay(s) where I parked. While looking for a space I had noticed quite a number of suspended parking signs in the surrounding streets. But these had been sited right next to bays which had been suspended or referred to a specific address, such as between 12-22 xxxxx Road. Anyhow, this is what the signs said.

 

 

The yellow Loading/Stopping one tied to the scaffolding read:

24 February 2014 19 April 2014, 24hrs including weekends. 12 Metres (2 spaces) Bedford Street 2 Residents Bays Outside Entrance to Bedford Court (Opposite Junction of Henrietta Street) STREET WORKS S5Z08593

 

 

The yellow one tied to the lamp post read:

City of Westminster WARNING PARKING SUSENDED If this suspension is unclear or is not being used call 0207 823 4567

 

 

Again, just to reiterate, these notices were right next to the roadworks and opposite the junction mentioned. The fenced off area of road works extended for about 12 metres, i.e. 2 parking spaces, so it seemed obvious, if totally unnecessary, that they were referring to residents parking being suspended where the road works were taking place. I assumed that if the authority had wanted to designate the parking bays that I and another car had parked in as substitute residents's bays then the notices would have clearly said so and specified the address right opposite these bays.

 

 

I was bemused by the wording of the 'Parking Suspended' sign as it seemed to suggest or at least lack the confidence that its wording wasn't clear. Surely a parking suspension should be worded clearly.

 

 

Anyhow, for all the trouble I took researching the area and the parking bay I finally parked in I received a PCN with code 12R. i.e. for parking in a residents' or shared use parking place or zone without clearly displaying a valid permit, etc., etc.

 

 

I took some pictures of my car and of the signs. The Civil Harrassment Officer (CHO) had taken 3 photos: two of my car and a third of something else. The third was totally blurred so you couldn't make out anything at all, although by knowing the context you could guess it was of a parking sign half way up a lamp post.

 

 

I challenged the PCN on the basis that there was so restricted parking sign or time plate in the area of my car. My challenge was rejected with an outright contradiction of what I had said in my challenge. Their wording is: “Your challenge against this PCN has been rejected (surprise, surprise), because the evidence supplied by the CHO confirms that the time plate was in place and was 2 metres from where your vehicle was parked. There is a time plate in place for every bay”. They rejected my photos taken with a mobile phone because of a lack of a date/time stamp. They seemed to know that their “evidence” wasn't satisfactory due to the totally blurred picture, because they are relying on the fact that all three pictures were taken in the same minute. i.e. the blurred photo of the sign must have been taken not far from my car. But, even if the photo wasn't totally blurred, it would simply mean it was taken within a 55 second walk of where my car was.

 

 

From reading other forum posts I understand that photos are not required as evidence to support issuance of a PCN, but that they are used just to persuade the driver that they're at fault. Fair enough, but if that's the case, don't use photos as purported evidence or invite drivers to challenge PCNs on the same basis. Ideally the photo(s) would show both the car and the sign/time plate in the same photo.

 

 

The rejection letter further states:

“As you can see from the above photographs they are time stamped and the time indicated on all 3 photographs is 19:45. This indicated that the signage was in close proximity to your vehicle and in light of this I am satisfied that the PCN was issued correctly.”

 

 

Again, from reading other posts such as a similar case in Plymouth, a sign can only be relevant for parking on the same side of the street as the sign. Thus, their reference to the sign being in close proximity because a blurred picture of something was taken in the same minute doesn't seem to be sound evidence at all. So I accept it is possible there was a sign some distance away that I didn't spot, (because the other signs were far more prominent and at eye level), but surely the Council or CHO must provide positive and clear evidence that there was a sign as well as of its location.

 

 

 

Questions:

 

  1. Is their evidence strong enough to support their assertion that a time plate was in place? As far as I'm concerned they still haven't shown me the signage or time plate that they refer to.
  2. If so, if it was 2 metres away half way up a lamp post above these road works is that close enough or clear enough?
  3. I have 14 days (now 7 days) to pay the half-fee of £65 or appeal and risk paying the £130. My main concern is losing and paying any other fees or costs which aren't specified. If I lost my appeal would there be any such extra costs?
  4. Most importantly, do I have a strong case for making a Formal Representation?
  5. A friend also took photos with his digital camera. Could I also submit these as part of an appeal? I haven't seen the photos yet but they could have a date/time stamp on them. But we didn't take any pictures of a time plate that they refer to, so maybe it wouldn't make any difference anyway.
  6. If the time plate that the council refers to happens to be attached to the same lamp post where I saw the Suspend Parking sign, would I have a strong case to say that the view of it was obstructed or impeded by the road works immediately below? i.e. you would have to walk in to the middle of the rod or cross the road to notice it.
     
    Any comment or advice welcome, supportive or not! :)

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I received a pcnlink3.gif with code 12R. i.e. for parking in a residents' or shared use parking place or zone without clearly displaying a valid permit,

 

That being so, the whole episode about the bay suspensions and suspension signs doesn't have any real bearing on the case. You were ticketed for parking in a bay which wasn't suspended, but which required you to be a permit holder. I think that's the case? Correct me if I am wrong.

 

In general, as you are aware from your remarks above, councils do not need to supply photos, nor prove anything to you. The onus is on you to use the appeals process to disprove their charge that you were in a permit bay, while it was in force, without a permit. So the basic issue of signage is one you need to prove, not them. You haven't given the precise location, but I am guessing that it is on Google Maps. If you take a look or give an exact place, someone can see what the sign in that photo shows. Also, their blurry photo might be useful if there are features in view enabling us to confirm where the sign is. Are you able to post a copy up?

 

I'll try and answer your questions:

 

Is their evidence strong enough to support their assertion that a time plate was in place? As far as I'm concerned they still haven't shown me the signage or time plate that they refer to.

 

The don't need to show you, so by default, yes it's strong enough unless you show it to be false.

 

If so, if it was 2 metres away half way up a lamp post above these road works is that close enough or clear enough?

 

It depends on the availability of better locations it could be placed and how visible it was. The exact location would help to form a judgement on that.

 

I have 14 days (now 7 days) to pay the half-fee of £65 or appeal and risk paying the £130. My main concern is losing and paying any other fees or costs which aren't specified. If I lost my appeal would there be any such extra costs?

 

No extra costs, provided you take action in response to their refusal - either then pay the £130, or continue with the appeals route. Extra costs only come in, if you do nothing at all and the case progresses automatically to the next stage of enforcement.

 

Most importantly, do I have a strong case for making a Formal Representation?

 

Not without something concrete about inadequate signage.

 

A friend also took photos with his digital camera. Could I also submit these as part of an appeal? I haven't seen the photos yet but they could have a date/time stamp on them. But we didn't take any pictures of a time plate that they refer to, so maybe it wouldn't make any difference anyway.

 

You could submit them but what do they show which is not already known?

 

If the time plate that the council refers to happens to be attached to the same lamp post where I saw the Suspend Parking sign, would I have a strong case to say that the view of it was obstructed or impeded by the road works immediately below? i.e. you would have to walk in to the middle of the rod or cross the road to notice it.

 

Again, images would be needed to prove that the sign was not clearly visible. We'd need to see the photos.

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Yes, there was no restriction plate at all next to either bay. I was parked outside 15 Bedford Street which on Google maps isn't shown as numbered yet. It is black-fronted shop with large windows to the left of Patisserie Valerie, more or less where that silver car is parked. There was scaffolding along the street right by car and the cordoned off roadworks started behind my car, where that blue Merc or Daimler is parked on Google maps. I went back to the spot last night and all the scaffolding, cordons are gone and roadworks complete. Without the obstructions the residents parking timeplate is now clearly visible on the lamppost right outside Bedford Court. Looking at my photos I can also make out the timeplate, but you couldn't see it head on, as I said, without standing opposite which, due to the roadworks, would have meant crossing the road or standing in the middle of a busy, narrow road. Besides it was a good 2-3 metres behind my car.

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Thank you ever so much Jamberson and Michael Brown for your very help.

Here are the most useful photos, even though mine are dismissed because they have no timestamp. The first one is the blurred one of the timeplate taken by the Council. I can't make out any distinguishing marks to accurately place it, though I must assume it is the one that I inadvertantly took when taking the front shot of my car. If you can enlarge that photo you will see the yellow warning sign lower down the lamppost as well as the profile/edge view of the timeplate which I failed to notice. The timeplate in clear closeup is the one that I took last night, while standing in the residents bay below it (where previously the roadworks were). Reviewing these photos again the most obvious thing is that the yellow warning sign was positioned so that it was facing pedestrians, i.e. away from the road, whereas the residents bay timeplate was higher up and still facing the road so you wouldn't see it unless you knew it was there or were looking for it and crossed the road.

If the onus is only on me to provide evidence and my photos can be so easily dismissed as an inconvenient irrelevance then the main evidence will be the public record of the roadworks and other impediments during that period.

It's a relief about the costs, as I am prepared to argue my case on this one on the basis that the timeplate should have been relocated to a more easily visible position, especially as one's attention was drawn to the very prominent temporary signs that were positioned at eye level.

Again, thanks very much again for your comments and advice. Further thoughts in the light of these photos and my exact parking position will be appreciated.

 

 

 

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If you bothered reading my first post you'll have read that I did 'bother' walking up the street in both directions looking for restricted signage. Please see my reply just posted that explains why it wasn't seen. Thank you.

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Having looked at the photos and Google, I am pretty certain the blurred photo is of the sign you also think it is. You can see the lamp post, the only one in that street slap-bang in front of an opening leading down a passageway. You can tell that the stone surround of that opening is pretty much the same as in the daylight photos.

 

If the CEO could see and photograph the permit bay sign, then so could a motorist, and there is a responsibility on the part of the motorist to actively look for the signs, knowing that parking is all going to be controlled in some way. If the CEO could find it, so could a driver, and it is right next to where you parked.

 

Since that photo does have a date/time stamp, I'm guessing the council's other photos have time stamps close to this one - thereby proving the CEO could not have had time to walk off to some other street to take it?

 

The bay suspension signs don't seem to be of any relevance to the contravention. I can't see where you can go with this in terms of appealing. The sign was there - presumably the times on the photos prove the CEO was right by your car when he took the photo. What can you say to get the PCN overturned?

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the yellow warning sign was positioned so that it was facing pedestrians, i.e. away from the road, whereas the residents bay timeplate was higher up and still facing the road so you wouldn't see it unless you knew it was there or were looking for it

Timeplates always face the road. Streetview and your photo show that the timeplate wasn't obscured before or after the event. The CEO's blurred photo shows an unobscured timeplate, so is it the timeplate in question? I think it probably is, since there is a streetlight in the background which is almost certainly a streetlight further up Bedford Court, right behind the lamp-post.

 

In other words, to put it bluntly, you didn't look hard enough. Personally I wouldn't fancy my chances with this at adjudication.

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My last reply 2 days ago didn't get submitted...due to the hyperlink. Oh well, here goes again:

 

Thanks again for your comments.

However, the fact is I will appeal on the basis that:

1. It wasn't possible to get a clear frontal view of the time plate without either stepping in to the middle of a busy road with traffic passing in both directions or crossing the road. Perhaps the traffic warden felt comfortable doing this, as I expect he had high visibility or reflective clothing.

2. Even if I had noticed the sign it wasn't clear which bays the sign was applicable to. It just read 'Residents permit holder only G'. Presumably it refers to all the bays immediately below the sign, so you would look up the road in both directions until you came to the end. But it looked that my bay was separate and not contiguous with the ones that had existed prior to the roadworks. 'G' refers to a large area of that part of London as a designated residents parking zone, within which there is on-street parking for ordinary motorists which is free after 6.30pm. The Council's own guide to where you can park with a residents permit doesn't shed light on interpreting the signs, so I guess it must be self-evident when the bays below a time plate aren't dug up. (westminster gov uk/where-you-can-park-resident-permit)

I also wonder why the council calls it a time plate when there are no times on it. Their website reveals, however, that these resident bays are 24/7.

 

It certainly doesn't follow that if a warden who already knows exactly where all signs on his beat are can find the sign then a motorist can as well. If he can see it then of course I could physically see it if I stood where he stood. The photos seem to be an irrelevance if they're not of any evidential value, so less said on them the better. If I had the nerve to submit a totally indistinct picture like theirs, even with a time stamp, I know what they would have said.

 

It will be on public record that the roadworks were there on the date in question and a photo wouldn't be required to back up a statement for how busy the roads in that area are that time of night.

 

The BBC documentary about this very issue a few nights ago highlighted cases which were won on appeal even without the motorist being able to provide supporting evidence, if the explanation and motorist come across as credible, which also depends on the appeals lawyer hearing the case.

 

Even if I lose it would be a good chance to educate the council on the importance of providing clear signage. Although they may lose a bit of revenue if a few clueless (and evidently blind) motorists such as me can easily see and read the signs the plus is that residents would find their bays available more often. I understand why you may think the Parking Suspension signs are irrelevant, but to me it demonstrates how visible and impossible to miss the council can make signage if it can be bothered. The suspension signs were positioned at eye level and facing pedestrians walking along the pavement. i.e. they weren't facing the road above head height like the permanent residents parking sign, because the person who put the signs up must have realised they wouldn't be spotted half the time if they were. My main case would be to state that I think a Residents parking only sign should have been positioned right next to the bays where I parked.

 

Thanks so much again for your comments, especially when you disagree with me! Wish me luck.

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However, the fact is I will appeal

 

Entirely your choice, as long as you realise none of your points above will result in the pcn being cancelled and it's going to cost you a lot of effort and an additional £65

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You are gambling £65 on a less than 1 percent chance. You did come here for advice, right? The advice is: You don't have a case and would be better off paying.

 

Look at Google street view. Do you seriously think they will buy arguments like "stepping in to the middle of a busy road with traffic passing in both directions"? Come off it!

 

Save your money, mate. Pay the discount.

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Why are you guys referring to Streetview??? You do know that is only a snapshot in time taken potentially years ago? It doesn't show the roadworks, and isn't taken at night, to mention just two differences. To be honest, such references devalues what you say.

 

It's no good throwing almost dead cert predictions at me, without any empirical or even anecdotal/case history evidence from a very similar case to back up your assertion.

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It also doesn't show a busy road with so much traffic that you couldn't risk looking at the sign. If you say that, they will just laugh at you.

 

Look, it's your PCN - it doesn't affect me in the slightest, but when you ask for advice, I presume you want it. That's why I spent so much time untangling your long stories about bay suspensions etc. and giving you my considered advice - based not on a case history but years of real, first-hand experience. If you don't want the advice, OK. Best of luck to you.

 

I realise you very much want the PCN to be cancelled but you are extremely unlikely to win. Personally I wouldn't gamble it, if it were me. But please do post back and tell us what happened, so we can learn.

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