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Bonkers Blog April 2013

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30 April - Bexley council, bluffing again

Unapproved signsBexley council suffered another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Parking Adjudicator last week. You may recall that both the Evening Standard and the BBC reported last February that Bexley was one of several London councils using unapproved temporary parking bay suspension signs.

At the Public Realm meeting a week or so later, cabinet member Gareth Bacon assured everyone that that report was of no consequence because a court had ruled in councils’ favour.

John Watson of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group was particularly interested because he had received a Penalty Charge Notice in August 2012 because, he said, a temporary sign had been taped to a pole next to his car after he parked it.

Not having taken a photograph of the unadorned pole that was a difficult point to prove, on the other hand it wasn’t difficult to get confirmation from the Department of Transport that Bexley had no dispensation to use their own sign. John‘s case went to the Adjudicator and Bexley was asked to supply their Dept. of Transport certification. The resumed hearing took place last week and Bexley provided a certificate. The only problem was, they tried to cheat; they had hastily applied for retrospective certification and hoped the Adjudicator wouldn’t notice. It didn’t cover the date of John Watson’s PCN.

Frizoni's pay
The case highlights a couple of things. Deputy Director of Public Realm, Mike Frizoni is not worth his salary, let alone his 10% bonus. Clearly the department he runs is incompetent and breaks the law without a thought. Just like the council leader.

Cabinet member Gareth Bacon was not in possession of the full facts when he advised the Public Realm meeting while under the inadequate scrutiny of his wife Cheryl.

And finally anyone who was fined for alleged offences against temporary signage before 17th December 2012 should ask for their money back.

For convenience the Adjudicator’s report is appended below. It would appear that not only was the signage illegal, the PCN itself was defective. All in return for paying the highest salaries in the country to get the best brains. Today’s Sun reports that Will Tuckley is on £254,000 a year. Bexley threw out Elwyn Bryant’s petition for claiming a £209,000 total salary package. The liars said he exaggerated the figure.

Case No. 2120644178
Appellant: Mr. John James Watson
Authority: Bexley
VRM: D1G4568
PCN: XL0980120A
Contravention Date: 29 Aug 2012
Contravention Time: 18:05
Contravention Location: Hadlow Road, Sidcup
Penalty Amount: £110.00
Contravention: Parked in a suspended bay/part of bay
Decision Date: 25 Apr 2013
Adjudicator: Mamta Parekh
Appeal Decision: Allowed
Direction: Cancel the Penalty Charge Notice and the Notice to Owner.

Reasons: Mr. Watson attended the personal hearing listed for today. This case was previously adjourned to the local authority as follows:-

"Please confirm if you have obtained authorisation from the Secretary of State for your suspension signs, and if not, on what basis you say these should be considered as being validly authorised. If no response is received by the adjournment date the appeal will be allowed."

The local authority have responded referring to a Statement they have received from London Councils in rebuttal of the BBC Inside Out London report which has given a rise to a number of claims that suspension signs are not valid and which was also referred to by Mr. Watson at the last hearing.

This statement points out that the case referred to in the documentary has been superseded by the subsequent Court of Appeal Case of Herron v The Parking Adjudicator [2011] EWHCA Civ 905.

In that case The Court concluded that substantial compliance with the statutory specifications in the TSRGD suffices, so long as the signage adequately informs motorists of the restriction, and does not mislead. The basis for this conclusion was that the authority for the placement of signs derives from the local authority's Traffic Management Order (TMO).

The TMO submitted by the local authority in this case is dated as coming into operation on 17th December 2012. However as Mr. Watson correctly points out the date of issue of the penalty charge notice was 29th August 2012 and the local authority have failed to submit the TMO which was in force at the time of the contravention.

I therefore cannot be satisfied that the contravention did occur.

In addition I note that this penalty charge notice is defective following my decision in PATAS Case 2120504543.


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