Three months ago I wrote an article about why I thought that Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) handed out in on-street Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in Scarborough by Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), are handed out with the full knowledge that they’d unlawfully implemented the scheme.
After much obfuscation, I obtained the ‘Statement of Reasons’ from SBC. The document showed that SBC had introduced the CPZs to fund additional traffic management measures in Scarborough. The price of our parking permits appears to fund the failed Seamer Road Park-and-Ride scheme.
In 2013 the Barnet CPZ Action Group took Barnet Borough Council to the High Court over the council’s dramatic price hikes to the price of parking permits. The result of the action was that the council’s price hikes were deemed illegal. The High Court ruling from Mrs Justice Lang stated:
the 1984 Act is not a fiscal measure and does not authorise the authority to use its powers to charge local residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes
This purpose was not authorised under the RTRA 1984 and therefore the decision was unlawful.
Since I’d acquired a couple of PCNs, I decided to test this to see if SBC would avoid going to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal as they knew they’d unlawfully implemented the PCN scheme.
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2015
From: Tim Thorne
Subject: PCN XXXXXXXXX – Notice To Owner Received
I wish to challenge this PCN on the following grounds:
1. There has been procedural impropriety by the enforcement authority.
2. The order which is alleged to have been contravened is invalid.
The reason for challenging this PCN is that the council’s reason for implementing the residential parking zone was solely to raise revenue and did not resemble the reasons laid down in the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act.
The Statement of Reasons you sent me contains a reason you introduced the traffic order, which was “To fund additional traffic management measures in Scarborough”.
As you can see from the following High Court judgement, the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act does not authorise an authority to use its powers to charge residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes.
SBC never responded to a formal appeal against two PCNs. 56 days after I sent the formal appeal, Sunday 21st June 2015, the law, specifically Part 3 Section 9 of The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 decreed that;
(6) Where an authority fails to comply with paragraph (2) before the end of the period of 56 days mentioned there—
(a) it shall be deemed to have accepted the representations and to have served notice to that effect under paragraph (2)(b); and
(b) it shall immediately after the end of that period refund all such sums as are mentioned in paragraph (3).
In the case of the two PCNs I’ve appealed against, SBC have accepted my representations that they’d unlawfully implemented the CPZ scheme to fund additional traffic management measures in Scarborough.
Amazingly, this wasn’t the end the of the matter. SBC ignored the PCN procedure laid down in legislation and proceeded to take me to court to recover the money they believe I owe them.
After submitting a witness statement which detailed how SBC had ignored the statutory process, the court found in my favour:
It is ordered that the order for recovery of unpaid penalty charge be revoked. It is further ordered that the charge certificate be cancelled.
Even more amazingly, SBC fielded a complaint about the matter (SBC have previously branded me ‘vexatious’ and stated they will not accept complaints from me) and the council admitted to ‘procedural impropriety‘ due to an ‘administration error‘.
It appears that SBC have avoided a hearing at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal regarding their unlawful implementation of the Scarborough CPZ scheme this time, but their obfuscation won’t last forever and there are more irons in the fire.
Having to fight an SBC PCN and unsure of the process? This handy guide should help you out. If not, ask in the Corruption Busters Facebook group.