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Car Towed - Suspended Bay Sign Unclear

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I am writing on behalf of my girlfriend

 

who got her car towed last saturday morning 7th June 2014.

 

They told us it was parked in a suspended bay, but after reading several posts on this forum,

it seems we may have valid reasons to appeal.

 

We would be very grateful for anyone more knowledgeable about the law on this to advise us on our appeal before we submit it.

 

She thought her car had been stolen and it caused a great deal of distress.

 

Plus it was a huge inconvenience to us as we were due to go away for the weekend in the car.

 

The car was parked on St. John's Hill in Wandsworth, London.

 

They told us that the car had been towed because it was parked in a suspended bay.

 

Later in the day I went back with her to where she was parked and took some pictures.

 

I also include a scan of the PCN that was given to us when we went to collect the car.

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5RkJGMFBQQjE0Z0J1cGRjejhwd2R6dmpKTEV3/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5T3pXSVBjeVpYX0VuUFhaTHNrWGRjU0h1dEtj/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5UzdXQklpREptWXhkV0p5NldTclVCZFV2cDR3/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5Z3lrckNlQzZfSzZJai1fTVN1aDdmVUc4VFBB/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5X3NLemNOYjM4RTQ/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

You can see that the suspended bay sign was several car lengths away from bay where my girlfriend was parked

i.e. the empty bay in the pictures.

 

This is pretty much how it looked when my girlfriend arrived to park.

i.e. all the other bays that are closer to the sign had cars parked in them.

 

My GF parked and left her car, walking in the opposite direction to the sign.

 

There was no other sign on the other side of the suspended bay.

 

She never noticed the sign in the photo, further down the road,

so she had no idea the bay she parked in was suspended.

 

I am wondering if we can appeal on grounds of any or all of the following:

 

1) It was not at all clear that the bay was suspended.

The only sign was several car lengths away.

No other sign on the other side of the bay.

 

2) Is the sign valid? I have read in other posts that sometimes the sign itself does not follow 'the rules'.

 

3) The sign says that the bay outside no. 97 is suspended.

The pavement is quite wide and it is not clear which bay this refers to.

Especially because the only sign was so far away from no. 97.

 

4) When we went to pick up the car at the pound in Mitcham,

we were told that we had to pay £265 or they would not release the car back to us, even though I told them we wanted to appeal.

 

I have since read in other posts that the this is not the law.

Apparently, they cannot force us to pay to release the car if we choose to appeal. Is this true?

 

5) My GF was away from her car for approximately 1.5 hours. when she got back it was gone and no indication where or why. Can they tow it without any warning?

 

6) We notice the address of the suspended bay is different on the PCN to the sign. The sign says "no. 97". The PCN says "no.s 97/99".

 

Do we have grounds to appeal?

Should we use any or all of the above in our appeal?

Is there anything else we should put in our appeal?

 

We would be very grateful for advice on this.

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by pfozz
More information. Added photo of PCN.

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were the area the car was parked indicated by single of multiple bays...photos are not clear enough to see, if they are individual bays and the sign was further down from no 97 then i think there is a case for appeal. if however it was on single bay where multiple cars can park then an appeal will be difficult...i am sure others with more experience with london parking will be along to clarify

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were the area the car was parked indicated by single of multiple bays...photos are not clear enough to see, if they are individual bays and the sign was further down from no 97 then i think there is a case for appeal. if however it was on single bay where multiple cars can park then an appeal will be difficult...i am sure others with more experience with london parking will be along to clarify

I can't remember for sure. I will have to go back to see, but in the meantime, on streetview, it looks like one single bay i.e. there is just a single dashed line around several parking spaces and no dashed lines separating individual spaces. See here: http://www.instantstreetview.com/2o9dquz3et6t4z41bznvz2u. You can see no.s 97 and 99 here.

Don't we have grounds for appeal on any of the other points I raised? e.g. no sign in the direction she left the car on foot? I have read in other posts that they are meant to put a sign on both sides of the suspended bay, so that it is not missed.

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1) It was not at all clear that the bay was suspended. The only sign was several car lengths away. No other sign on the other side of the bay.

 

The positioning of signs has to be reasonable but there are no strict rules. Looking at Street View, the suspension would have been much clearer, had they put the suspension signs on the pole right next to where the motorcycle is parked - but I am not sure they could do that. I think that might cause some kind of conflict with the existing sign.

 

2) Is the sign valid? I have read in other posts that sometimes the sign itself does not follow 'the rules'.

 

It looks OK to me, but I'm not an expert. I can't read the details but I presume it gives a date and time which agrees with when the car was there?

 

3) The sign says that the bay outside no. 97 is suspended. The pavement is quite wide and it is not clear which bay this refers to. Especially because the only sign was so far away from no. 97.

 

The description "outside no. 97" communicates where you mustn't park, so if the car or part of it is in front of no. 97, then that's a contravention.

 

4) When we went to pick up the car at the pound in Mitcham, we were told that we had to pay £265 or they would not release the car back to us, even though I told them we wanted to appeal. I have since read in other posts that the this is not the law. Apparently, they cannot force us to pay to release the car if we choose to appeal. Is this true?

 

No that's not true. They can and will force you to pay before releasing tha car. An interesting point has been raised on these forums before, that points out that a PCN (and there is a PCN element of the charges you have) normally isn't payable in advance of an appeal. But so far as I know this has never been tested, and it is universally the case that they don't release the car without payment in advance. Although I think it might be wrong to make you do that, I don't think it's a realistic way for you to go at this point - it could take months to get councils to concede the point, and meantime you need your car, And that's assuming the argument would eventually go in your favour, which it might not.

 

5) My GF was away from her car for approximately 1.5 hours. when she got back it was gone and no indication where or why. Can they tow it without any warning?

 

Yes. There's no realistic way they could warn the driver. They don't even know who they are or where they are.

 

6) We notice the address of the suspended bay is different on the PCN to the sign. The sign says "no. 97". The PCN says "no.s 97/99".

 

The PCN states where the vehicle was, whereas the sign says where the suspension is. The vehicle was evidently straddling the divide between 97 and 99, but if part of it is outside 97, then that's sufficient.

 

 

I think you will have to pay to get the vehicle back, and then appeal. As I see it, your grounds should be 1) the positioning of the sign could have been better, making the suspension clearer, and 2) you are being compelled to pay the PCN prior to having a right of appeal, which breaches your right to defend the charge.

 

Whether they will succeed I don't know, but there is a chance.

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Thanks a lot for your advice. Some clarifications:

 

According to http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/1215/schedule/made

A notice shall be displayed in a prominent position at each end of the length of road to which the order relates and at the points at which it will be necessary for vehicles or pedestrians to diverge from the road, stating the effect of the order and, where applicable, the alternative route or routes available for traffic.

Doesn't this mean that they should have put a sign in the direction my GF walked away too? i.e. away from the sign which was several car lengths away.

[The sign] looks OK to me, but I'm not an expert. I can't read the details but I presume it gives a date and time which agrees with when the car was there?

Yes, it does. This forum appears to shrink pics. I put the full size pics on Google Drive (see links in my original post). I presume it doesn't make any difference, but as you can see there is actually two signs: On one sign the suspension runs from 20th May to 16th June, but on the other it runs from 27th May to 16th June. Anyway as my GF was parked there on 7th June, I presume that does not help us?

 

I was reading http://www.ticketfighter.co.uk/parking.htm#suspended

(I cant post images but it's on the above page)

This sign with "Parking suspended" is invalid. It is not a permitted variant of either signs 636 or 636.1.

To be honest, we are struggling to understand these rules. Does anyone know if this sign meets the rules or not?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Vqw_YSKNY5UzdXQklpREptWXhkV0p5NldTclVCZFV2cDR3/edit?usp=sharing

 

They can and will force you to pay before releasing tha car... I think you will have to pay to get the vehicle back, and then appeal.

We did pay £265 and got the car back on the following day (Sunday 8th June). I'm here to try to get the appeal right. Thanks for your help.

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The first link you posted is for introducing temporary restrictions along a road, not for suspending parking bays, so it's not relevant to your situation.

 

The fact that there are two signs with different dates might get you somewhere if you include it in your appeal. As you say, it makes no difference to you, but it could invalidate the signage since there is a conflict. As with the regulations for the design of the sign, someone else will have to advise - I don't know enough about it.

 

At least if you have paid, the time pressure's off a bit.

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The first link you posted is for introducing temporary restrictions along a road, not for suspending parking bays, so it's not relevant to your situation.

My mistake. Thx for pointing that out.

 

Our case seems the same as this successful appeal (which you helped with):

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?335480-Car-towed-from-unclear-suspended-bay-with-sign-not-visible&highlight=suspended+bay+towed

Are there reasons we don't have a valid case on the same grounds?

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He didn't win his case on the basis of his appeal (the letter was practically incomprehensible). He lost the appeal, then aplied for an adjudication hearing on the basis that the council didn't deal with his appeal properly. They conceded the case at that point, for reasons unknown, and cancelled the PCN. I don't think it will help in your case.

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