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Hi Everyone!

I'm putting this argument together to appeal a ticket I received for not buying an overnight ticket when I parked at 8.30pm for 2 hrs. For years all the pay and display car parks in my area have been free overnight and since sept 2014 they added these little yellow strips detailing overnight charges to just two of them. I've had a drive around and checked about 10 car parks and only 2 have this. The annoying thing is that the night I got the ticket I hadn't used the car park in about a year and thought I better go to the sign and check whether operating hours were til 7pm or 9pm. I never noticed the sly little addition! Below is my representation so far (has to be in 5th Sept) but I wanted to know what regulations I ought to be looking at. TRO's for the council only mention proper road stuff and not car parks. Traffic signs manuals also aimed at road traffic signs. I can't seem to find anything that outlines how to make a sign clear enough to be understood.

It appears that you misunderstood me in my original letter. I would like to make it clear that I did go over to the pay and display machine and notice to make myself familiar with the terms. My argument is that, even though the information is correct, your sign is misleading for the following reasons.
1. it follows nearly exactly the same format as all your other car parks which have operating hours during the day and are free to park in the evening. Please see attached photo’s (a)-(e). These signs are consistent across the pay and display car parks in Swansea, with the only difference being the operating times and charges . It is fair to say that the residents of Swansea have become used to these layout of these signs over the years and would need any changes made to be immediately recognisable. When I went to look at the sign, nothing struck me as being different from any of the other pay and display signs and it was for this reason that I mistook your sign to mean that the car park was free after 7pm.

2. The addition of overnight parking is written in much smaller writing and has been separated completely from the times and charges section by being enclosed in a yellow box below. The reduction in font size and separation has an effect on the way the information is digested by the reader. It could indicate that this information is not as important as the information in the larger text, or it could indicate a change in topic, eg. going from ‘times and charges’ to ‘concessionary rates’, which is also consistent with the layout of your sign. This means that the reader is less likely to link the two parts of the sign together as being relevant to one another. If a driver were looking for the hours of operation then it is logical to assume the relevant information would be grouped together in a continuous format. This sign does not follow that logic. Furthermore, two different time formats have been used, which further isolate the two pieces of information from one another.

3. The sign is confusing. This car park is 24hrs pay and display. Why not make it perfectly clear by saying so and putting this at the top of the sign. Attached is an example of a car parking sign which does just that (f). I do not believe that your sign is clear enough to help motorists to get the right information. It should be easy for the public to read and understand the conditions.
Would it come under contract law? I appealed a private car park fine once and used contract law to argue that. Or consumer protection I guess as you are buying a service? I can't really find anything which is making me think that car park signs can be written any way that they want!
Why not tell us what you did e.g. I parked at ** pm and did/did not purchase a ticket for ***.

Then we could fit these facts to the sign and law.

The sign is pants IMO.

Car park signs should have two periods specified:

Operating hours;
Charging hours.

Obviously charging hours cannot be greater than operating hours.

In this case, you have to infer that from 1 Sept. 2014 the operating hours are 24/7. As regards the charging hours, some aspects are pants. For example:
You park at 8am and pay £5 for an 'All day' rate. So, this means that you can:
Park until 0759 on the following day?
You can only park until 1800 hrs on the day in question?
You can only park until 1900 hrs on the day in question?
You have to purchase an overnight ticket which can be purchased at any time during the day or only at 1800?

You park at 1800 hrs, so can you pay £1.50 to park until 7pm which is the specified end of those charging hours?

Don't these officers ever get out of their offices and try and see things from a user's perspective? (This is rhetorical, no answers needed!)

But your case is about the facts of your case, and we don't know what they are.
Hi sorry. I think I must have used all my powers of clarity to write the representation. I parked at 8.30 pm for approx 2 hours thinking that I was okay as the sign starts by outlining the hours of operation (or so it seems) as 9am-7pm. I assumed these were the only hours of operation on the sign (see points of my argument) and thus assumed that it was free to park after 7pm and before 9am. The ticket was issued at 9.17pm.
I think we can work with this, but expect to have to take the matter to an adjudicator for the full penalty.

What is the meaning of 'overnight rate'? It could be:

Overnight, in other words a flat rate for parking until 10am.

But what about the regular charges starting at 9am?

And if one doesn't park overnight, but only in the evening? Is 9.17pm overnight or evening?

Clarity, my a**e.

On this page there are some car park regulations (from feb 2014) but no mention of overnight charges.
The usual bovinely stupid sign from a council that employs idiots !! Worth appealing, I would think on grounds of confusing and misleading signage. Most signs must as a minimum state the controlled hours/days and the charging hours/days. Whilst parking may not be charged on part of a day or even a whole day, many councils restrict the period of stay to prevent the car park being used as a living area.
Thanks for replies you guys. Does anyone know what regulations or legislation the signs come under or can they just write any old thing that they like. I need to find that document, whatever it is, and find out whether they have done anything wrong here.
The law is as follows:

1. A contravention occurs in an off-street car park in the following circumstances where an offence has been committed:

(d)..... under section 35A(1), 47(1) or 53(5) or (6) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (offences in connection with parking places);

In this case, it's 35A(1), as follows:

(1)In the event of any contravention of, or non-compliance with, a provision of an order under section 35(1) above, the person responsible shall be guilty of an offence.

The order in question being the one which creates and regulates the car park. But under general principles of law, and these apply to private off-street as well as council-run ones, you cannot contravene something about which you were unaware, and it is the signs at the site which are therefore crucial. Lack of clarity can give rise to an adj finding that there has not been a failure to comply with the order because its provisions have not been communicated effectively.

But you don't need all of this, suffice to say that your claim is that you misunderstood the sign whose contents were misleading and this gave rise directly to you parking as you did i.e. you interpreted the sign as meaning that charges applied between the hours of 0900 and 1900 hrs only but that if a motorist intended to stay for the whole night i.e.from 1800 hours until 1000 hrs the following day (albeit that this is inconsistent with the statement in the sign that charging hours commence at 0900) then a charge of £2 was payable. You parked at 2030 for 2 hours and did not believe that you were obliged to purchase and display a ticket. Your belief that the so-called 'overnight' rate was payable only for the whole night and not part of the period after 1800 was supported by the fact that the sign states that the charge for 'All Day' parking is £5 and that this ends at 1900 hrs (the charging hours being 0900 - 1900). Clearly, if parking for any period after 1800 attracted the 'overnight' rate of £2 then 'All Day' must end at 1800, but it doesn't, it ends at 1900hrs.

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