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PCN received - unclear "no stopping" times - ** CANCELLED BY COUNCIL **

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I received a PCN from Oldham City Council for parking in a zone that says "No stopping 10 - 5 am except taxis". Please see attached photo.

 

I interpreted this as "No stopping between the hours of 10 pm to 5 am", because that made sense to me at the time. 

I parked here from about 7 pm to 9:30 pm, and when I got back, the PCN was waiting for me.

 

I am thinking of challenging this on the grounds that the sign is ambiguous and open to interpretation. 

Every "no stopping" sign I've seen has "am" or "pm" written beside the hours, making it crystal clear and leaving no room for misunderstanding.

 

I've appealed to the council at the email address specified on the PCN, but my appeal was rejected today.

If this goes to court,  what do you think are my chances are of winning?

 

Thanks in advance for your replies. :)

IMG_8748.jpg

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I read the sign as being the only time when stopping is permitted, (other than taxis) is between 5 am and 10 am, but the second sign tells me that the stopping is for loading only during that time. In other words, private vehicles are not permitted to stop at any time!

 

With regard to your further comment about court, parking was decriminalised several years ago, so court is not involved.

 

Your appeal that has been rejected is known as a 'soft appeal'. If you do not pay now - it should still be at the reduced rate - it could go to a formal appeal, after which the step is for the council to apply for an order which can be enforced by bailiffs.

 

Quite honestly I cannot see how you can avoid paying the penalty charge notice. If you are still within the period of discount following the soft appeal, that would be the best outcome. 

 

Jamberson and Michael Brown are the two most experienced Caggers on this subject, so you might want to wait for their observations.

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My time as a Police Officer and subsequently time working within the Motor Trade gives me certain insights into the problems that consumers may encounter.

I have no legal qualifications.

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48 minutes ago, Gick said:

I read the sign as being the only time when stopping is permitted, (other than taxis) is between 5 am and 10 am, but the second sign tells me that the stopping is for loading only during that time.

 

Hi Gick, thanks for the reply. I didn’t read the two signs in conjunction like that. I read them as two separate notices:

”No stopping except taxis between these times. Oh, and by the way, loading is only permitted between these here times.”

 

The problem is not the £35 fine itself, but the feeling that I’m being held responsible for misinterpreting a sign that could have been written more clearly, with no room for interpretation had they put “am” at the end of the “10”, like other signs. 

Edited by Zettai Baka

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I agree the sign is ambiguous, and I think you will probably win this, if you fight it all the way. (That's 'probably'!)

 

The sign must state the hours of no parking, and must be clear. So, the yellow sign says "No stopping 10 - 5am". Logically, that can't be 10am - 5am. So it must be 10pm - 5am. And then logically, it follows on, that you can stop to load after 5am, until 10am. If it means something other than that, it isn't clear.

 

I don't read any restriction after 10am - which is itself odd, but you have 14 days to decide what to do, so I would start by contacting the Council and asking for a copy of the Parking Order for that location. This will tell you what the true restriction is, and I would not be surprised if it's 10am - 5pm - in which case, the sign is completely faulty and you should win.

 

In any case, you can make formal representations once the Notice to Owner is issued, and this can be followed by adjudication.

 

Incidentally, what was the contravention and contravention code printed on the PCN?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jamberson said:

 

The sign must state the hours of no parking, and must be clear. So, the yellow sign says "No stopping 10 - 5am". Logically, that can't be 10am - 5am. So it must be 10pm - 5am. And then logically, it follows on, that you can stop to load after 5am, until 10am. If it means something other than that, it isn't clear.

On that basis, there is no restriction at all between 10am and 10pm, which on a taxi/loading bay is highly unlikely.

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2 hours ago, Jamberson said:

I agree the sign is ambiguous, and I think you will probably win this, if you fight it all the way. (That's 'probably'!)

 

The sign must state the hours of no parking, and must be clear. So, the yellow sign says "No stopping 10 - 5am". Logically, that can't be 10am - 5am. So it must be 10pm - 5am. And then logically, it follows on, that you can stop to load after 5am, until 10am. If it means something other than that, it isn't clear.

 

 

Hi Jamberson, thanks for the thorough reply. That's encouraging :)

 

The reply to my appeal from Oldham Council says that the sign means 10 am to 5 am. I've attached screenshots of the email response from Oldham Council.

 

To me, even if that "am" was present in the sign, "10 am to 5 am" is an awkward way of counting time.

 

2 hours ago, Jamberson said:

 

I don't read any restriction after 10am - which is itself odd, but you have 14 days to decide what to do, so I would start by contacting the Council and asking for a copy of the Parking Order for that location. This will tell you what the true restriction is, and I would not be surprised if it's 10am - 5pm - in which case, the sign is completely faulty and you should win.

 

The response from the council (attached) says that it is 10am - 5am, which again to me is an awkward way of wording time. To consider the opposing argument, I suppose it sort of makes sense if you read the sign the way Gick described it in his post, but if the sign clearly said "10 am" instead of just "10" it would be blatantly obvious to anyone. Do you think I should still ask for a copy of the Parking Order anyway?

 

2 hours ago, Jamberson said:

Incidentally, what was the contravention and contravention code printed on the PCN?

 

Contravention Code: 45

Contravention: Stopped on a taxi rank.

Council response to appeal - part 1.jpg

Council response to appeal - part 2.jpg

Edited by Zettai Baka

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Interesting that in their reply the council admit the sign says 10-5am and then go on to say that this means 10am-5am.  If that's the case, why doesn't the sign make that clear.

 

I think this gives you a fair bit of wriggle room at adjudication, that the sign is wide open to mis-interpretation and the council have as good as admitted that.

 

The sign should have said 'No stopping 10am-midnight and midnight -5am except taxis'

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Michael Browne said:

Interesting that in their reply the council admit the sign says 10-5am and then go on to say that this means 10am-5am.  If that's the case, why doesn't the sign make that clear.

 

I think this gives you a fair bit of wriggle room at adjudication, that the sign is wide open to mis-interpretation and the council have as good as admitted that.

 

 

 

If you read that in conjunction with the next line, it's like they're saying "When I say 10, I obviously mean 10 am, duh." It makes me not want to pay them a single penny.

 

I did a Google search for "no stopping signs UK" and I could not find a single sign that does not clearly specify am/pm in both of the times. If I end up going to adjudication, I think I'll just print out 10 different "no stopping" signs and say "Look, these are no stopping signs put up by other councils and they leave absolutely no room for interpretation. Why can't you guys do the same thing?"

Edited by Zettai Baka

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I would go all the way to adjudication. 

Their explanation that 10 means 10am is very weak: how is someone supposed to know if you don't write it down.

24 minutes ago, Michael Browne said:

The sign should have said 'No stopping 10am-midnight and midnight -5am except taxis'

This is exactly right.

 

As the council has not bothered to specify am or pm, i read the first sign as "no stopping 10pm-5am except taxis" and the second sign as "loading only 5am-10am".

Prove me wrong i would say to these cowboys.

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2 minutes ago, king12345 said:

I would go all the way to adjudication. 

Their explanation that 10 means 10am is very weak: how is someone supposed to know if you don't write it down.

 

Thanks for the reply. I wouldn't be surprised if they reply with something like "Well it's just common sense that 10 means 10am because that's how taxis work, and you should know how taxis work, blah blah." 

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I don't think so.

They can say whatever they want,  but if they don't specify, any motorist can interpret the sign wrongly and park during restricted hours without knowing it.

Am or pm must be specified.

 

59 minutes ago, Michael Browne said:

The sign should have said 'No stopping 10am-midnight and midnight -5am except taxis'

 

This is the best comment.

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Councils have a duty to ensure that the motorist is fully informed of the relevant traffic restrictions. The signs must operate in such a way as to provide reasonable information for the motorist concerning what is required in order to park lawfully, rather than the motorist having to guess.

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Zettai,

If you decide to take this further, rather than pay the discount, wait for the Notice to Owner..

 

Then post up your appeal here before submitting.

 

Bear in mind that you would almost certainly have to go to adjudication and although I think you have a good chance,  nothing's guaranteed and it's your money you're risking, not mine.

 

 

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Thanks for your advice Michael. After the sanity check from you and other people who replied, I've decided to not pay this silly fine. I'll wait for the Notice to Owner, and then post up an appeal here. 

 

I've never been to court or an adjudication, so in my head I'm thinking judges with wigs, a jury and a prosecution like in the movies, but I'm guessing it won't be that dramatic...?

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2 hours ago, Zettai Baka said:

 

I've never been to court or an adjudication, so in my head I'm thinking judges with wigs, a jury and a prosecution like in the movies, but I'm guessing it won't be that dramatic...?

No,  your appeal would be heard by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal either on-line or as a telephone hearing

https://www.trafficpenaltytribunal.gov.uk/how-your-appeal-will-be-decided/

 

https://www.trafficpenaltytribunal.gov.uk/what-to-expect-at-a-hearing/

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Thanks again, Michael.

 

The funny thing is, the car I was driving at the time belongs to the manager of the dealership where my own car was being repaired. They didn't have a courtesy car with automatic transmission like I requested, so they gave me the dealership manager's personal vehicle. Brand spanking new vehicle with a couple of hundred miles. I put a couple of hundred more on it, and now the manager is going to get a Notice to Owner in the post. He's going to love me.

Edited by Zettai Baka

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That complicates matters.  Did you sign any form of courtesy car agreement?

 

As driver you cannot make representations to the NtO, only the registered keeper can do that.

 

The garage has to transfer liability to you by filling in the appropiate sction on the NtO and return it to the council, who will then issue an NtO in your name.

 

It would be best if you speak to the manager and explain, because otherwise the garage may well just pay the full penalty and bill you together with an admin charge. If that happens any right to appael is lost

Edited by Michael Browne
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Thanks for the warning, Michael. I did have to sign a courtesy car agreement, but I don’t have a copy of it. I just contacted the dealership and asked the manager not to pay the fine if he ever receives anything related to this PCN. 

 

I’ve never seen a Notice to Order, but is that section regarding the transfer of liability clearly marked? If so, I’m hoping the manager will notice it, fill it in and transfer the liability to me without requiring prior knowledge of what you just said. 

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Yes, on the NtO there is a tick box which says: 
 

Quote

 

We  are a hire and the vehicle in question was at the material time hired from the firm under a hiring agreement; and the person hiring it had signed a statement acknowledging liability in respect of any pnalty charge  involving the vehicle during the period of the hiring agreement.

You must include a statement of the name and address of the person to whom the vehicle was hired at the material time. Please also supply a copy of the hire agreement and the hirer's statement acknowledging their liability

 

 

The council is unlikely to send the NtO before the middle of August, so I would call the garage every 10 days after that   or so to make sure they deal with it

Edited by Michael Browne
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1 minute ago, Michael Browne said:

Yes, on the NtO there is a tick box which says: 
 

 

 

Thanks, you're such a star, Michael. 😀

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The owner of the car will have to make the transfer of liability - you should check with them now that they are in agreement with this - otherwise, you may have to pay it in full. It means them ticking a box on the back of the Notice to Owner and filling in your name and address. Then a new Notice to Owner gets sent out to you instead by the Council, and you're in business.

 

If you are fighting on, contact the council now and ask for a copy of the traffic order for that location. I would want to see the hours on the sign match what's written in the order, because it looks odd.

 

Adjudication hearings aren't scary. You will sit at a table with someone from the council, and the adjudicator (who isn't a judge - he or she will just be in business dress) will ask questions to understand the issue and then decide who they think is correct. It could be a bit of fun if you look at it that way. Nothing to be intimidated by - worst possible outcome, you have to pay the PCN. The council don't like the hearings as they can affect many other PCNs they are processing (eg, all the ones they are continuing to issue right at that spot) and they will be more obedient and deferential than you need to be!

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1 hour ago, Jamberson said:

Adjudication hearings aren't scary. You will sit at a table with someone from the council, and the adjudicator (who isn't a judge - he or she will just be in business dress) will ask questions to understand the issue and then decide who they think is correct. It could be a bit of fun if you look at it that way. Nothing to be intimidated by - worst possible outcome, you have to pay the PCN. The council don't like the hearings as they can affect many other PCNs they are processing (eg, all the ones they are continuing to issue right at that spot) and they will be more obedient and deferential than you need to be!

 

 

This is Oldham so the appeal will be at TPT and most likely be on-line/postal or a telephone hearing, rather than a personal hearing.

Edited by Michael Browne
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As strange as this layout of sign is, it does meet the guidance in the TSRGD and the Traffic Signs Manual. There's no way that i would have signed the restriction like that, but that's not much help! I do aympathise with the OP however, that's not an easily understandable sign.

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3 hours ago, Hungrydoug said:

As strange as this layout of sign is, it does meet the guidance in the TSRGD and the Traffic Signs Manual. There's no way that i would have signed the restriction like that, but that's not much help! I do aympathise with the OP however, that's not an easily understandable sign.

I am pretty sure it doesn't 

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It meets the guidance in the traffic signs manual Chapter 7:

 

"12.2.3. If the time period covers only “am” or “pm”, but not both, then “am” or “pm”, as appropriate, should be shown only against the end time."

 

Which could be read one of two ways, but there would be enough wiggle room to say it was conforming.

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