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PCN - Confused by parking sign...

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Hi everyone, a bit of background to my story...

I parked in a place I previously parked in over the years, arrived at 09:56, and returned at 11:47 to find a PCN stuck to my windscreen...It was issued at 10:10 with observation time 10:00 - 10:10, starting less than 5 minutes after I arrived.

I do not believe the PCN is valid, as I thought we were allowed to park in this spot for 2 hours; as you can see, the signage says Permit Holders . . . Or 2 Hours, no return within 1 hour...

The sign in question is right next to the bays and there is another section over the road that says permits or pay at machine.

I read on other threads and other sites that if the signage includes 'or', you are OK to park, which is how I read it.

Thanks to my dashcam, which has my registration number, time and date all showing in the footing, I have proof I was not there before this time and left at the time I mentioned above.

I have made an initial challenge to the PCN, but after some digging, I am now doubting myself and wondering what other folks' take on the parking sign is, have I misread it and parked illegally?

Thoughts on the matter are most welcome.

Mr B


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Sorry but I read it differently. To me the 'or' refers to the two different types of Permit. You can only park there if you are displaying Permit S or Permit H and then only for a maximum of 2 hours.  The 'or' is in front of the 'H' not in front of the '2 hours'.

If the 'or pay at machine' sign is on the other side of the road but not on the side where you were parked then I guess it doesn't apply to the bay you were in.

But I agree it isn't the clearest laid out sign in the world. So it's a local authority Penalty Charge Notice?  Nothing to be lost by making representations to the council on the grounds of unclear signage. There are rules about how signs are supposed to be laid out so if you can track down the relevant Dept of Transport signage manual you could see if it is compliant. 

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Hi Ethel; I see your point, which is why I was starting to get confused.

However, I have never seen a sign with multiple zones using the OR...I just assumed they would just list the zone/permit identifier, and the OR is usually an indicator to show that any non-permit parking is restricted to the show times; I, of course, accept I may well be incorrect in my view/assumptions.

I know for a fact that in that space, residents and businesses park all day long, I do not know if this is allowed or not to be fair, I just assumed it was so, and in several years, I have never actually seen a ticket on a windscreen in that area, but then I only visit 1-2 times a week.

The H is for Hotel/Visitors; honestly, I do not know if the time restrictions apply to both permits or just the H. The establishment can give out these tickets or they can be purchased at local shops for a discounted rate when compared to paying for parking via the on-street machines if you have a 'ticket' from the hotel to purchase a book that is.

The sign, in my opinion, is ambiguous, and it is not clear if the restriction applies to both zone/permit types or just H or is, in fact aimed at non-permit holders as a time restriction.

The signage on the other side of the road clearly states you need to have a permit or pay, there is no confusion with this, and it is not related to the area I parked in.

I have had a dig through the DoT Signs Manuals, 13.8 - 13.10.5, but it is not clear if the signage complies.

I will wait for them to respond and for any other responses from folks here.

Thanks again for your input, I very much appreciate it.

Edited by mrbrooks
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So, been back to check out a couple of other signs, cos I was sure I had seen some similar ones in the town; I saw these two, which are on the same street (not the one I was parked in earlier today), no more than 20M apart; and less than a mile from where I parked earlier today.

There are similar signs to the first one at the top of the road, and about a quarter of the way down, they change to sign 2, this leads me to believe these signs, though slightly different, mean the same thing, and that is the very same thing the original sign I posted earlier means, as in, Permit/Zones S/H OR 2 hours and no return within 1 hour.

I know these are 'Or pay...' but these are excellent examples of why the 'Or' does not apply to the Permits/Zones but to the general time restrictions for non-permit parking or instruction to pay at the machine.

As mentioned, I will wait to see what the council says. Still, I will ask them to explain the differences in the signs on the same road within spitting distance, as it seems inconsistent and confusing and similar examples are dotted all around the town centre.

Thanks again folks, and any thoughts on this are most welcome.


Mr B


Edited by mrbrooks
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Hi Michael, thank you for your input; the PCN code is:

19 - Displaying an invalid permit

Parked in a residents' or shared use parking place or zone with an invalid virtual permit or displaying an invalid physical permit or voucher or pay and display ticket, or after the expiry of paid for time.

The sign I posted in my first post is right next to the parking bays; it was/is literally in line with the nearside rear of my vehicle, so there is no question it relates to these bays, and there is no question of requiring payment, it clearly states 2 hours no return within 1 hour, not, Or Pay at the machine.

I can only assume they believe I had overstayed beyond the permitted two hours or returned within one hour, which is impossible to prove for them as I was elsewhere until 09:55.

Regarding the meaning of the sign(s) I agree with your statement, and this is what I have always thought until I read in a couple of other places questioning it, and then Ethel mentioned it, too, that they believe the 'or' refers to the permit/zones.

However, after more digging, I do not believe this to be correct, and I stand by my initial view of what it means, which is as I have always seen it.

I firmly believe the sign reads...vehicles/owners with permits for zones S/H can park here unrestricted, and anyone else can park for up to two hours and cannot return to park within one hour of leaving.

Also, I took more photos of the signs and those with the 'or' between the permit/zones have had the lower designation (S or H) added at a later date; I believe they have been stuck on at some point after the sign was erected, many of the lower ones look different to the one above it, such as slightly different colouring and can see of the stickers coming off on some of them, also, some of them are wonky or do not line up with the S or H above it so clearly, these were not present when the sign was created/erected.

I also emailed the council to ask them to clarify if the two signs with differing layouts from the same road (The ones I posted above) mean the same thing. They have replied that they do mean the same thing, i.e. both signs mean, Permits/Zones S and H are allowed to park unrestricted, and all other vehicles must pay to park and can park for a maximum of four hours.

With all this in mind, I am confident the sign I posted in my first post means Permits/Zones S and H are allowed to park unrestricted whilst all other vehicles can park for up to two hours with no return for 1 hour, which makes the PCN null and void as I was there for no more than 15 minutes when the ticket was issued, which is simply outrageous.

I am waiting to hear back from the council regarding my challenge, which I also find a bit odd, I thought I would get some form of acknowledgement, but I have not received any; of course, I do not know if this is normal or not, I will wait until Friday and will call them for some guidance if I have not heard back to at least acknowledge my initial contact.

Thanks again to everyone, and I will keep you posted if I hear anything back from the council...

Kind regards

Mr B

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Nothing to do with overstaying, that would have been Code30:Parking for longer than permitted

Two [possible scenarios:

1. The parking place is divided into 2 parts, one permit holders/P&D and one permitholderrs/2hr limit and you mistakenly parked in the wrong section

2. CEO mistakenly thought  the restrictions opposite applied to your side of the road.

But this is all guesswork until we know the exact location.

Have you looked at the council pics on their website.



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This looks like a possible wrong contravention code. This is not a P&D situation, right? It's free for non-permit holders. You have been ticketed for displaying an invalid permit.

So the first question is, did you have a parking permit of any sort on display? If not, and this is free open-access parking, I would wait for the NTO then appeal formally on the grounds that the contravention did not occur. (This assumes they reject your initial appeal of course.)

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Hi, Michael; there is only one section/bay on that side of the road; it is one continuous section that holds about four vehicles and the sign I posted is the only sign on the side/part of the road/pavement regarding parking.

Hi Jamberson, no, I do not have a permit, and no, it is not P&D on that section, so though not having a permit, I always thought the 'Or' meant it was free for a couple of hours as the signage indicates and I believe this is still the case.

Regarding the code, it could be incorrect; what it should be in a valid scenario or what the CEO was trying to or should have cited (nothing to cite in reality), I have no idea, of course, and regarding the PCN, well, I am convinced this has been issued in error and is invalid, as I have not breached any of the guidelines/rules for parking in this area in relation to the two-hour parking limit or return within one hour.

Thanks again, everyone, I very much appreciate everyone taking the time out to throw their views into the mix.

Kindest regards

Mr B

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So, I emailed back my local authority (East Sussex) with a picture of the first sign I posted up here, and according to a Senior civil enforcement officer: The sign in the picture shown is for permit holders or 2 hours free no return for 1 hour.

Just thought I would end any more potential confusion...and at least now I know for certain that we can park there...so just need to wait for ESCC to respond to my challenge.

Mr B

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9 hours ago, Jamberson said:

This looks like a possible wrong contravention code. This is not a P&D situation, right? It's free for non-permit holders. You have been ticketed for displaying an invalid permit.

So the first question is, did you have a parking permit of any sort on display? If not, and this is free open-access parking, I would wait for the NTO then appeal formally on the grounds that the contravention did not occur. (This assumes they reject your initial appeal of course.)

Hi Jamberson, no I had no permits on display, I parked there based on the fact it is free for up to two hours...like I have several times before over the years, and in fact, did so the day before too, at roughly the same time...

Mr B

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If you had no permits on display and didn't require one, then the contravention code is wrong. You can park there without a permit or ticket - you are entitled to. All you could be ticketed for would be overstaying - contravention code 30. There doesn't seem to be any justification for contravention code 19.

There is a good chance they will reject your appeal, since it probably addresses the wrong issue. If so, they will issue you a Notice to Owner (assuming you are the registered keeper) and at that point you can make a formal representation - another appeal, in other words. At that point you can write and appeal on the basis that the contravention did not occur. Can't see how they can disagree.

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Hi Jamberson, thank you for the reply.

I agree with everything you say; what is frustrating me is that despite this ticket being issued incorrectly and despite the fact there is no way to prove their claim in any case, I am assumed guilty as charged and have to provide proof of such (luckily enough I can) that have not breached their rules, and have to spend who knows how long (it is already 3-4 hours now) in fighting it, to show they have made an error, and will likely get no way to be compensated for the loss of time due to their incompetence.

We will see what happens, and I hope they do not force me to go to a formal representation; they already have all the relevant information, and if they do move for a formal representation, this is going to be just another waste of time I will never get back,  so I can be forced to prove my innocence all because someone has either failed to do their job correctly or has done it maliciously.

The whole thing is outrageous.

Thanks again for your time/effort, and the same to everyone who has posted so far.

I will let you all know when I have a response from the council regarding how they have decided to proceed in this case.

Mr B

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