Norwich parking ticket fiasco
Mary HamiltonNorwich City Council has suspended issuing parking tickets in some city streets because of a lack of signs warning of restrictions.Mary Hamilton
Norwich City Council has suspended issuing parking tickets in some streets because of a lack of signs warning of restrictions.
No tickets have been issued in some areas since January 20 and the city council wants to hear from people with tickets issued between the end of December and that time.
But the council would not reveal which streets were affected by the problems, claiming it could lead to problems with people taking advantage of the situation to park unsafely.
And parking campaigners have warned the situation could lead to a flood of parking appeals if the council's controlled parking zones (CPZs) were deemed unenforceable.
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Although the council refused to pinpoint which parts of the city would be hardest hit, areas that could be affected include most of the city centre, as well as areas near the University of East Anglia, Thorpe Hamlet, Heigham, Lakenham, Mount Pleasant and other mainly residential streets - anywhere within a CPZ.
Norwich City Council has not been forthcoming with information about the potential cost of the problem, and would not say whether refunds would be automatically issued.
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City council transport spokesman Amy Lyall said the council was unsure how much revenue the authority would lose in uncollected tickets.
She said: "We would estimate the cost to be under �10,000. This money is ring-fenced for parking and is not part of our revenue budget, so this cost will not affect Norwich taxpayers.'
The costs of reviewing all the penalty charge notices handed out by the council and of putting up new signs are still unknown.
And it remained unclear whether the problems were caused by a change in guidance from the Department for Transport (DfT) or prompted by a successful appeal against a parking ticket.
A city council spokesman said: "I cannot tell you anything about appeals by individuals against penalty charge notices because this would affect their confidentiality.
"The guidance given to us changed at the end of December 2009. We were advised the DfT authorisation we had been using on a small number of streets was not valid. We stopped enforcing on those streets on January 20."
But a spokesman for the DfT said no new guidance had been issued in the past few months regarding signs in CPZs, and said they would normally offer councils a substantial period of time to adjust to new regulations.
Parking campaigner Barrie Segal, who runs the website Appeal Now, said if the changes came in response to a successful appeal, the council could be opening the floodgates for further claims.
"You have to remember that you can make a claim against any party going back six years," he said. "If someone has an ongoing appeal then that appeal should continue and if the CPZ problem is related they can mention that in the appeal.
"For people who have already paid, I believe that if you have paid a ticket which the council led you to believe was valid, but was in fact invalid because the wrong signs were in place, I believe you are entitled to your money back."
Mr Segal said he had fought similar cases in Westminster, in which CPZs were declared unenforceable due to a lack of correct signs.
He said: "The critical issue is that each vehicular entrance into the CPZ has to have a sign showing it is a controlled parking zone. If all the entrances do not have that sign, it invalidates the whole zone.
"The law gives the council two alternatives - it can place little signs every 60m along every single yellow line, or as a concession it does not have to do that providing they have the CPZ signs at every entrance to the zone.
"My suspicion would be that the council has not signed the entrances to the CPZs properly. This would mean the single yellow lines were unenforceable."
A CPZ is an area where all on-street parking is controlled. Parking is permitted only in designated parking bays and the rest of the kerbside space is subject to yellow line restrictions.
On single yellow lines parking is prohibited at certain times. The enforcement hours must be listed on the signs at the entrance to the CPZ.
If you have a ticket you think may have been issued in error, contact Norwich City Council on 0344 980 3333 or visit www.norwich.gov.uk to send an email.
Have you successfully appealed against a parking ticket in Norwich? Call reporter Mary Hamilton on 01603 772418 or email email@example.com.
Parking ticket errors that have cost councils dear:
In 2006 Norwich City Council lost around �75,000 in revenue when a High Court case found that technical errors on tickets left them null and void.
Last year appeal group Parking Now successfully forced Camden Borough Council in London to scrap its 1.3pc surcharge on credit card payments after an appeals body ruled that applying that charge made an entire parking fine unlawful.
In 2008, a controlled parking zone in Westminster was declared illegal after a ruling by the parking adjudicator that it must have signs on all entrances to be enforceable.
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