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Challenging photographic evidence - potentially easy win against council PCNs
post Mon, 14 Jan 2019 - 22:14
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Been lurking here a few months now, but I'm a first time poster. Figured this may come in useful to someone, someday.

Back in June I was helping a friend move house in Mansfield. I parked in a residents' parking zone directly outside his flat to move some of his gear out of my car.
On completion of the move several hours later (OK, and on completion of a few crates of ale and a lengthy game of poker), it was rather obvious that I wasn't going to be driving anywhere. I returned to my car to retrieve a spare set of clothes to stay the night, only to find the dreaded yellow sticker from Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC).

How I beat the Council:

Despite the supposedly fair cop, I had absolutely no intention of paying because I object on principle to the legalised extortion operation that is local authority parking "enforcement".
This was actually quite a lengthy case, and to include the rest of it would be mostly irrelevant and a disservice to the point I'm trying to get across.
My appeal actually hinged on a technical flaw with the wording on the PCN. I fought it all the way to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT), but whilst waiting for the Adjudicator's decision, I noticed something...

Obviously the Council had uploaded a f**kload of photos to try and prove their point. However, on closer inspection... the photos proved nothing.
The residents' parking zone in question had signs at all entry points to the zone, but repeater signs were very sparse once inside.
I'd parked a fair way in and well away from the nearest repeater sign, so all the photos of my car showed... my car. Nothing else, just my innocent-looking, piece of s**t car parked on what appeared to be a regular street.
The Council had also taken photos of the signs, BUT (and here's the kicker), the daft c**t issuing the PCN had taken highly zoomed in photos of the signs... and nothing else. Just the signs.

"So what did you do?", I hear you ask:

I added a late extra statement to my TPT appeal. In it I argued that the photos of the signs did not show them in any form of context, not next to any recognisable building or structure, and certainly not next to my car. I argued that the photos could have been stock photos downloaded from the Internet (as they also contained no time/date stamps) and accordingly the Council had not submitted sufficient evidence to the TPT to prove that I was parked in a properly signed, legally enforceable residents' parking zone, therefore no contravention had occurred.

"As if that worked!"

Well, I wouldn't be posting here if it hadn't! The TPT Adjudicator was having none of it on the PCN flaws but agreed with me on the signage, making the following statement:

"The council has provided two photographs of two parking signs, one of which that might be present at an entry point to the zone and one that appears to be a repeater sign, but it is not possible to ascertain where the signs are located and the council has not identified by their evidence the zone in which Mr [REDACTED] had parked . Whilst it may be the zone was only one street, although the council does provide a map of the area it is not labelled with road or street names and does not show the position of signs at the vehicular entry points to the zone or the position of any repeater signs.
Where there is a controlled or restricted parking zone the requirements for signage are that there should be signs detailing the terms of the restriction at all vehicular entry points to the zone. There is no need to place carriageway markings and nor is there a need for signs to be placed in every part of the zone but where signage is disputed the onus is upon the council to prove the signage in place clearly indicates the restriction and I am not, therefore, satisfied at this particular time, in these particular circumstances that the council has proved the restriction was signed adequately so that Mr [REDACTED] could be aware of the restriction. Accordingly I do not find the parking contravention proved and this appeal is allowed."

- Traffic Penalty Tribunal Adjudicator

So what?

I wasn't expecting to win on such a flimsy argument. I was half expecting the Adjudicator to give it to the Council on the balance of probabilities or for the Council to return to the site, take pictures of all the signs, and spank me seven ways to Sunday. Seeing as the case actually went my way, this could be significant for motorists. Civil Extortion Officers aren't known for their photography skills or attention to detail, and if your case sounds like mine it could be a ridiculously easy win at the TPT.

tl;dr - Even if the site is fully signed up and legally compliant, if the photos submitted by the local authority don't prove that you could be walking away from the TPT laughing.
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post Mon, 14 Jan 2019 - 22:14
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post Mon, 14 Jan 2019 - 22:40
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Are we meant to be surprised that a case can be won where the council can’t prove the contravention occurred?


Any comments made do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. No lawyer/client relationship should be assumed nor should any duty of care be owed.
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