thanks to the forum i won my appeal here is what the outcome was
MC0******* 06/02/2017 Portland Street 34 08/12/2016 16:42 Being in a bus lane £60.00
Grounds of Appeal:
I do not know which ground of appeal is relevant
Penalty Charge Notice number: MC0*******
Vehicle registration: YC06*** Detection Date of Alleged Contravention: 08/12/2016 at
Location of Contravention: Portland Street (North-East Bound)
Date of Penalty Charge Notice: 14/12/2016
. The PCN was issued as the vehicle was observed driving in a bus gate on Portland Street at 16:42 on 8 December 2016.
2. The appeal was heard by telephone with Mr May in attendance. The Council did not attend but had submitted their evidence as required in advance of the hearing.
3. I did not make a decision at the time of the hearing. I felt it was appropriate to take the time to consider the additional factual information provided by Mr May at the hearing which had not been available previously. This information related to the purpose of his visit, his route and the signs relevant to that route.
4. Mr May stated that he was in Manchester to pick up passport documents from the Portuguese Embassy which is located at no 1 Portland Street. He had not visited central Manchester for a few years, so was unaware of the changes to the road layout in that area which included the bus gate on Portland Street. Mr May confirmed that his route to Portland Street was via New York Street.
5. Mr May raised the following issues:
· He was unaware of any signs on New York Street warning him of the bus gate on Portland Street. He was travelling to the left of New York Street and the only sign is positioned on the right. It was a busy time and the sign was not visible due to traffic using the right hand lane. There are no signs at the point where the traffic stops at the traffic lights at the junction with Portland Street.
· It was dark and as he turned left into Portland Street he did not see the road marking advising him to turn right into Minshull Street. The red marking on the road surface was not obvious at this time of day and did not state ‘bus lane’. The area was also busy with traffic at the time.
· The first sign he saw was an upright sign for bicycles. The restriction sign to his left was behind that sign and he did not see the restriction signs until it was too late.
· He challenged the use of the restriction signs. He felt that the Council should use the standard blue bus lane signs which are clearer and require road markings to be present. He queried whether a PCN could be issued for a bus lane contravention when bus lane signs were not in place.
· He pointed out that the restriction signs allow loading and he falls within that exemption as he was picking up passports.
· The information from the Council included details of a helpline. He had tried to ring this number to speak to someone about the PCN. However, he found that this was not a helpline at all but an automated payment line. Mr May considers that the wording on the PCN should be changed to reflect the fact that this is a payment line only.
6. The Council’s position was that the bus lane is correctly signed. They had provided substantial information confirming the position of the signs in place when travelling from various directions. I was able to give further consideration to this information in light of the route information provided by Mr May at the hearing.
7. The Council confirmed that whilst the area is described as a bus gate this falls within the definition of a bus lane under s144 of the Transport Act 2000. Consequently they are able to issue PCN’s to vehicles travelling along the bus gate in breach of the restrictions.
8. The Council also confirmed that they are permitted to use diagram 619 of The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 i.e. ‘the ‘flying motorcycle’ sign for the bus gate as opposed to the more commonly used blue bus lane signs. This is the approach recommended in the Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 3 2008 paragraph 15.29.
9. Having considered both parties evidence I find as follows:
· The area in question is a bus gate which is a short length of bus lane and its purpose is to restrict vehicle access. I am satisfied that a bus gate falls within the definition of bus lane set out in s144 of The Transport Act 2000, and that a bus gate can be enforced in the same way as a bus lane.
· Having considered the Traffic Signs Manual, I am satisfied that the 619 restriction sign is a permitted manner of signing a bus lane. It is less common that the blue bus lane sign, but is the correct sign to be used for this particular area where access is required. When the 619 sign is used there is no requirement for additional road markings.
· I accept Mr May’s evidence that he did not see the sign on New York Street. Having looked at the area both in the Council’s photographs and on google maps, I can see that there is one sign on the right side at the point where the road splits into two lanes. I agree that in busy traffic this sign would not be particularly visible for drivers taking the left hand lane.
· Once a driver has passed the sign referred to above there is no further sign on the left side to warn drivers that they must turn right almost immediately after entering Portland Street. I do not believe that it would be possible for a driver, even if they were the first vehicle sitting at the lights, to assess the layout of Portland Street in advance of the turn given that the stop line is set back to allow pedestrians to cross. There is also a lot of street furniture in this area obscuring the view ahead.
· The Council’s submission states that there are carriageway markings guiding the traffic into the right hand turn lane. There are markings at the point of the right turn but no markings guiding traffic from New York Street directly into the right hand lane. As traffic turns left, drivers are faced with two lanes plus a cycle lane and certainly the nearside restriction sign is set back behind the cycle sign. As it was dark, the red carriageway marking which marks the area immediately prior to the bus gate was unlikely to be as visible as in the daytime.
· I have viewed the video footage and it does not appear that Portland Street was particularly busy in the direction that Mr May was travelling. That said, I accept his evidence that the sign on New York Street was not visible to him due to its position and traffic turning right. I accept that he did not have advance warning of the restrictions which then appeared quite suddenly once he had made his left turn ,and this is why he did not realise he was in a restricted area until it was too late.
· When considering all the evidence, I do not consider that the signs were adequate to bring the restrictions to the attention of drivers in Mr May’s position at the time he drove through the bus gate. For that reason, the appeal is allowed.
· With regards to the point raised regarding loading, picking up passports would not fall within this exemption. Loading is generally associated with items that are large, heavy or unwieldy and not items such as a passport that can be easily carried by hand. The point however is not a particularly relevant one in this case given my findings above.
· The Council should also review Mr May’s point regarding the phone number on their documentation. If this is a payment only line then this should be made clear.
· Mr May is now fully aware of the restrictions in place at this location should he need to return to Portland Street in the future.
10. Appeal allowed. Mr May has nothing to pay to the Council.