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Parking in disabled bay at Richmond Park, Going to court..please advise.
Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 01:35
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Hi,

I received a FPN from the parks police in Richmond Park , Kingston Gate car park , for parking in a disabled area.

Unlike elsewhere in the park the disabled area is indicated by two signs, about 30/40 yards apart, with the disabled symbol and an arrow pointing to the right on the left sided one..and an arrow pointing to the left on the right hand one. If this is hard to picture ..I have extensive photographs of it. These signs indicate the whole disabled area - about five bays with no road markings.

When I arrived there was a large minivan totally obscuring the right hand sign so all I could see was the left hand sign with the disabled symbol and an arrow underneath pointing to the right. I assumed that the sign was informing me that disabled parking was further up the park , like frequent signs indicate - I actually have a photo from Heathrow that shows this..the sign is very similar and it informs motorists that disabled parking is in the direction of the arrow, a bit further up.

I therefore felt confident that this is what the sign in the park was saying and that it was safe to park there..in front of it. When I came back I found the ticket. I telephoned the parks police , once I explained the situation to the guy he said he understood my complaint and had a lot of sympathy for me and that he thought I had a good case for an appeal. Bear in mind that I wasn't trying to find a loophole, or exploit any laws - the sign was genuinely ambiguous and misled me as it relies fully on the other sign being in full view to have the meaning it has and not look like it is saying the disabled parking is further up.

Anyway, I requested a court hearing and wrote down my reasons why. I received a polite letter from the MP saying that they wouldn't cancel the ticket because..at the time and given the evidence available to them..the ticket was justified. It went on to say that I could still pay in the next ten days or they would proceed with the court case. I find it interesting that they offered me this extra ten day period to pay as the offence happened in mid-August.

They did seem to recognise my complaint and that I had a legitimate grievance but won't cancel the ticket.
I am not sure if I should just pay them instead of fight it as I was in the area deemed disabled parking. I have spoken to other park users though who all agree that the signing is ambiguous with one of the signs completely obscured,as it was in my case. This genuinely fooled me..I'm not trying to get away with something.
There is no uniformity within the park with disabled signs..in all the other car parks in Richmond Park there are many, many more signs all directly in front of any bays .with the lettering 'disabled badge holders only' on them..

Please give me any advice, I'll be most grateful. I have a few days left to decide to pay or fight it...I just feel that I should fight it as the system is meant to be fair and totally and utterly unambiguous when it comes to signs...

This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 01:56
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post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 01:35
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 11:08
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Anyone have any thoughts?
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mob
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 11:24
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If you have extensive photos it would be useful to see them. That way people have a clear idea of the issues.
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 12:01
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Okay. this is the bay when the signs are clear:






this is the sign when something is parked in front of it - when I arrived there was a large minivan and another car (i think a 4x4) both parked up in front of the righthand sign and it was totally obscured ..I really wish I could get a photo of a van in that bay to truly demonstrate how much it blocks your field of vision:




this is the close-up of the sign itself and all that was visible to me at the time I parked. To me this sign is saying that disabled parking is in that direction, not right in front of it. For the signs to have the specific meaning they do.. they need to BOTH be fully visible..otherwise it is sending a different message:



This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 12:25
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 12:07
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I hope this is making sense. The point is that when I arrived there the sign on the right was completely hidden from view...there were two large vehicles blocking it from one's view. All that was visible to me was the the sign on the left (the last photo) to me this indicated that the disabled parking was further up..in that direction, not directly in front of it.

In no other area in the park are the signs like this - they are either marked on the ground ..or signs directly in front of each bay ...I also have photos of this.

Please say what you think...don't tell me you agree with me if you don't. All I know is that it comprehensively fooled me into thinking it was fine to park there, seriously!

This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 12:09
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 14:39
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Does anyone have any feedback? I only have a very small time frame if I'm going to pay and not take it to court.

Any advice is better than nothing at all..even if you think I should pay and don't agree with/understand my argument.
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Adenuff
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:07
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I think you might have to wait a while for definitive advice on this one- the combination of circumstances you outline will be likely to be beyond most peoples experience- Royal Parks regs etc

FWIW I agree with you that the signs are ambiguous and understand how the mistake was made. However I fear that as with Council signs/road markings temporarily obstructed by vehicles etc, the magistrate will not accept it as an excuse and will suggest that that the ambiguity should have led to caution on your part.
An "if in doubt don't do it" type scenario
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:15
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Adenuff - thanks a lot for the reply mate, I really appreciate it!


This is also my concern..but, my contention is that it wasn't ambiguous to me when I arrived - my brain simply computed that 'disabled parking must be up there'...again, I have photos of disabled parking signs with the arrow that mean exactly that. The sign only has a specific meaning if the other isn't obscured from view. To me it wasn't even something that put me in any doubt that I maybe shouldn't park there.

It's just an annoying feeling when you've genuinely been duped/mistaken. Throughout the park the disabled areas are indicated with signs on the ground or signs directly in front of each bay. The policeman I talked to agreed that I may have a case and told me that it's a ticket 'hotspot'.. If it's getting more tickets..maybe it's because it's the least clear in the park?

Do any of you guys know if I can get the parks police to produce statistics of how many tickets are issued there for this particular offence and to compare them with the other car parks statistics within the park..?

This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:21
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Teufel
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:21
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the royal parks have their own laws and policeforce

that said they need to conform the the same rules of fairness as councils etc
and the signs may well be inadequate if they are easily obscured by and average vehicle
that said going to maggys court is like rolling the dice
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Adenuff
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:31
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QUOTE (Teufel @ Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:21) *
that said going to maggys court is like rolling the dice


I think that this is the key point

I could easily have made the same mistake but the bottom line is that the contravention occurred and what you will be arguing is that there were mitigating circumstances. You are then left in a situation to a large extent where the outcome is based on the magistrates mood.
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mob
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:48
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For what it's worth those signs are at best confusing and at worst amount to entrapment. To say they are ambiguous is an understatement.

Personally I would interpret them as meaning the disabled parking is in the direction of the arrow. If the arrow was pointing straight down it would be clearer. Or better still no arrow at all.

They look designed to catch out the unsuspecting to me.

As others have said though mags is a lottery.

This post has been edited by mob: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:48
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 16:54
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Teufel - this is part of the reply from the Met ' I should advise you that Royal Park legislation does not call for road marking but have signs to say 'Authorised Car parks only' or as in this case 'Disabled Bays'. The park regulation act 1872 and 1926 can be found on the web site www.royalparks.gov.uk and any complaint in respect of signage can be referred to Park management'

The points you raise have been considered but on the evidence available the fixed penalty notice was correctly issued and there are insufficient grounds to justify its withdrawal'

I understand their point but ALL signage , everywhere, is meant to be clear and totally unambiguous.


Adenuff - That's interesting..from a point of law, would I have to plead guilty and then question the signage..or could I plead not guilty on account of the signs being misleading/wrong etc..?

Once again, thanks for any feedback. I feel completely alone and unsure.. I'm just angry because I have never come across disabled parking being indicated in this way..everywhere else, including the car parks in Richmond park, the signage is completely clear and it would be impossible to be misled.
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Adenuff
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:25
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QUOTE (Alfaguy @ Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:54) *
Adenuff - That's interesting..from a point of law, would I have to plead guilty and then question the signage..or could I plead not guilty on account of the signs being misleading/wrong etc..?


Unfortunately I don't know which would be the correct plea to enter but I would think that what you are challenging is the assertion which you quoted above that "the fixed penalty notice was correctly issued and there are insufficient grounds to justify its withdrawal"'.

Presumably your argument would be that there were sufficient grounds because the signage was inadequate and without that signage there is just a carpark open to all and therefore no offence

So still just a judgement call I'm afraid- to cough up or roll the dice


Incidentally if you do go to Court, I would be arguing that since each sign could stand alone ie it has meaning as a single sign, that a reasonable person ("the man on the Clapham omnibus") would not be looking for another sign to pair it with.

This post has been edited by Adenuff: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:35
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:32
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QUOTE (mob @ Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:48) *
Personally I would interpret them as meaning the disabled parking is in the direction of the arrow. If the arrow was pointing straight down it would be clearer. Or better still no arrow at all.


Exactly! In the rest of the park that's exactly how they are signed (with no arrow at all, in front of every single bay).

Hardly a surprise then that this particular bay makes so much revenue.

This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:33
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Adenuff
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:39
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QUOTE (Adenuff @ Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 18:25) *
Incidentally if you do go to Court, I would be arguing that since each sign could stand alone ie it has meaning as a single sign, that a reasonable person ("the man on the Clapham omnibus") would not be looking for another sign to pair it with.


Just in case you didn't see this comment

This post has been edited by Adenuff: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:42
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 17:51
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That's a very good point and it's a point I would certainly be making... There are a fair few examples of single signs having this different meaning, I've been unable to find any other examples (except in this case) of the two together giving it a new meaning..so why would our friend on the Clapham omnibus even feel the need to search out a potentially obscured second sign when it's a less common occurrence?
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bama
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 20:16
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Horizontal arrow at the bottom of a 'real' TRSGD parking sign (in black and white) means
"and in the direction shown"


--------------------
Which facts in any situation or problem are “essential” and what makes them “essential”? If the “essential” facts are said to depend on the principles involved, then the whole business, all too obviously, goes right around in a circle. In the light of one principle or set of principles, one bunch of facts will be the “essential” ones; in the light of another principle or set of principles, a different bunch of facts will be “essential.” In order to settle on the right facts you first have to pick your principles, although the whole point of finding the facts was to indicate which principles apply.

Note that I am not legally qualified and any and all statements made are "Reserved". Liability for application lies with the reader.
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viper
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 20:26
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Case is probably winnable. Only issue is potential loss of time if you have to go to court

I mean I think the signage is fairly reasonable. They could have a disabled sign for each bay (but the bays themselves are not marked). If you admit seeing any kind of disabled sign the magistrates may think you should have checked.

If you choose the court option there is a good chance the mater will not be proceeded with. Main reason for this is the cost involved for such a petty matter. Although I think they may be able to add some costs if it goes before the magistrate.

Good luck

This post has been edited by viper: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 20:28


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"GET OFF OUR BACKS"
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Alfaguy
post Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 22:46
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Viper - I understand..However, I genuinely didn't think I needed to check as the sign indicated to me that the disabled parking was further up in that direction, not in front.

In the same Park, at a different car park...this is how they do the signs (with no bays)






If they had the same system at Kingston Gate car park then there is no chance of the ambiguity that misled me. There is no uniformity of signage even within the park.

This post has been edited by Alfaguy: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 - 22:50
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Teufel
post Tue, 9 Oct 2007 - 07:48
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the park has its own statutes - howveer these CANNOT be unfair(and in this case they may well be) - there is an OVERRIDING duty of fairness for public bodies

this comes form various parts of the law (the clydesdale case) but mostly now is embodied in the
HRA/ECHR
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