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Jonah13
Hi,

Received this several days after driving through Sheffield(for the 1st time) on a wet November morning, which came as a surprise, the PCN not that it was wet up north!





I have no recollection of any signs or warnings that alerted me to the fact I was heading towards or driving through a "Bus Gate", I do remember worrying about driving on roads with tram lines running both ways(worried about slipping on the lines), buses and other traffic on the roads. After +30 years of fine free driving(touch wood!) I now find myself feeling like a criminal and law breaker, with my first reaction to pay within 14 days at the £30 to avoid having to pay £60.
I stopped myself from jumping online and paying and wanted to review what I had supposed to have done, on reviewing the Sheffield Council video and photos I definitely did drive over the short stretch of road that included a "Bus Gate", 1st time I had heard the term, and then decided to review google maps/street view to have a look at the signs on the road in question. There are 2 signs(above head height) in white and blue which advise that Bus/Taxi/Bikes are only allowed straight on, but no mention of Trams? There is also a sign below saying "BUS LANE Cameras"? These signs are lost in the colour of the high street shop signage and a little high for a non local following the road, avoiding the tram lines and other traffic! In addition there are a number of yellow signs advising "Tram Tracks Wheels May Slip or Catch" with an image of a bike on them. The google images also show 2 white & Black bordered arrowed signs saying "Other Traffic"?
I accept the google images are from July 2017, but as I live further North and do not visit Sheffield, its the best I can go on. There are road markings on the google images which show a faded green road covering and the words "Bus Taxi" and image of a Bike, the B & U in bus are badly faded as is the T & I in taxi, which in the wet dull weather you would struggle to see. In addition the faded green road covering warning drivers is actually after the last possible turning to avoid the "Bus Gate".
I appreciate the google street view is from July 2017, but in the video footage and images from council, you can just about see that the road markings are still badly faded.

Apologies for the amount of detail, but wanted to give as much information as possible for you to review my position and see if I have a case to appeal!

I look forward to your responses.

Jonah

stamfordman
reinstate the dates on the PCN.

that's a long road - is it clear to you where the gate is from the PCN.
Jonah13
Hi,

Was reluctant to put specific date, in case "The Man" was watching! Early November weekday. Signs say Monday to Saturday - 7am - 11am and 3-7pm.

Video and photos confirm it as near subway, are there more "Bus Gates" on this road? Running up to Langsett Road.

Thanks
cp8759
Don't worry about the council, even if they visit the forum, nothing posted on here can help them.
stamfordman
Details are only worth hiding on private tickets. Councils must follow process or they lose.

The reason for the dates is that PCNs can be served out of time.
Jonah13

Incandescent
There are two aspects to this, (1) vague locus as pointed out by 'Stamfordman' and (2) signage. Whilst it can be possible to get an adjudicator to agree signs are missing or inadequate, or the location is too vague on the PCN, and succeed with an appeal, that is the rub. The council will never agree with either of these points, so you end up at the Trafic Penalty Tribunal with the full £60 in play. It is a double-or-quits gamble, basically.

From what you say, the required signs are in place as shown on GSV, and whilst that is 2017, I doubt the signs are now missing in 2018, but if you want to claim they aren't there, you'd have to prove it. Coughing-up the £30 might be your best option.

First sign as you approach the bus gate (there is one also some distance back too).
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4039743,-...33;8i6656?hl=en

Second sign as you approach the bus gate. Note how extremely high up it is, it is really quite ridiculously high.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4031547,-...33;8i6656?hl=en

The "other traffic" sign
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4033392,-...33;8i6656?hl=en

I think one might have a good appeal argument based on the ridiculous height of the final sign. Why place it so high, it could be easily missed in this very busy street. Also there are no signs at the actual start of the bus gate itself. Surely there should be two, one each side.

Now of course the locals know all about this bus gate, but I would say the signs are inadequate to inform strangers. HOwever whether you want to risk the full £60 or have the certainty of the £30 is up to you. Personally, I'd take them to TPT on this one, they've been making money rather too easily here.
cp8759
If there are no regulatory sign where the restrictions begin, there are no restrictions. Advance warning signs alone do not create a restriction.

However there appear to be bus only signs here https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4033392,-...w!2e0?hl=en so I'm not sure why Incandescent thinks they're missing?
Incandescent
QUOTE (cp8759 @ Sun, 18 Nov 2018 - 05:16) *
If there are no regulatory sign where the restrictions begin, there are no restrictions. Advance warning signs alone do not create a restriction.

However there appear to be bus only signs here https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4033392,-...w!2e0?hl=en so I'm not sure why Incandescent thinks they're missing?

I have to say I disagree. That sign is before the right hand turn for 'other traffic' so is a warning sign, (the 2nd of two). There should be two of the blue "bus only" signs just after the right turn. There are actually two "escape" roads along here. The sign where you indicate is also the one that is ridiculously high, higher than the roof of the bus shown going in the other direction. Whether this grossly overheight sign would win at adjudication is another matter. Some adjudicators can be very obtuse in my view. The test should be that of signs as presented to a complete stranger, the locals know all about it as this gate has been there since the mid-nineties, shortly after the tramway opened. It was put there to speed up the tram traffic as the first day of opening was complete chaos.
Jonah13
Hi All,

Thank you for spending time to look at my PCN and your responses, much appreciated.

Based on feedback, I believe I have a justifiably case and even though I may have a £60 bill at the end, feel it’s a point of principle. Road signs and markings should be there to advise, direct and warn, but feel Sheffield council are using the poor signage to make money, which should not be the case.

I genuinely don’t remember the signs, as previously stated, too busy avoiding running on the tram lines in the wet, trams and buses!

Additional advice needed:-

1) The fact that The signs say “Bus Lane Cameras”, would I have a case to argue that these are misleading, even if I had seen signs, I would be looking for the road to split with a Bus lane with white lines to run on either side of me and not a no entry “Bus Gate”?

2) The signs indicate Bus, Taxi and Cycle, but no tram simble, again if I had seen signs would it be reasonable to think that if the tram lines comtinue along the road I too can continue? Once again misleading.

3) Faded, poor road markings - shouldn’t the council keep these fresh & clear as they are to advise drivers of road access? Perhaps spending some of their fine funds to maintain these!

4) 2 small black and white “other traffic” signs, which are lost within the high street shop signage, are enough to advise drivers that they need to take an alternative root?

I’m sure there are more questions, but just wanting to see if the forum feel the above would be enough to enable me to gain a reversal of the fine.

Thanks for all your help.
cp8759
There are blue bus only sings here: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.4028034,-...33;8i6656?hl=en

However seen from here, they turn into 7.5 tonne weight restriction signs: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.40291,-1....33;8i6656?hl=en

So the key question is what signs were displayed at the time of the alleged contravention?

They look like the sorts of signs that the council can change by pressing a button, and the signs flip over form one to the other.
PASTMYBEST
The blue sign is 953 a s36 sign so a regulatory one. That being so it is also mandatory that the carriage markings are used. as per

2170469229

I adjourned this case for the following reason:
The enforcement authority is offered the opportunity to make further submissions on the question of signage. The blue signs would appear to require the presence of the carriageway legend “BUS GATE” which seems to be absent. Schedule 9 Part 5 para 1 TSRGD 2016 provides that the information etc. of a description in column 2 of an item in the sign table in Part 6 “must” be conveyed by a road marking shown in column 3 .

Item 15 of the sign table in part 6 contains the description ” Road or part of a road with access permitted only for buses and other vehicles when so indicated by any of the signs at items 33 to 35 and 37 to 40 in the sign table in Part 2 of Schedule 3”.

The restricted access of that type in the present case is indicated by a (permitted variant of) a sign to Diagram 953 shown in the Schedule 3 Part 2 of the sign table at item 33. It would follow that the carriageway legend is mandatory and that authorisation is required to dispense with it.
In the absence of any further submissions or evidence from the enforcement authority I am unable to be satisfied the prohibition relied on was correctly indicated. The Appeal is therefore allowed.


The poor signage has been argued before at this location and won

https://www.google.com/url?q=http://forums....jIXrRPRqW9Cn7Nw
Incandescent
QUOTE (PASTMYBEST @ Sun, 18 Nov 2018 - 19:54) *
The poor signage has been argued before at this location and won

https://www.google.com/url?q=http://forums....jIXrRPRqW9Cn7Nw

I note that this case also mentioned the "in the clouds" final warning sign. But of course, Sheffield CC continue to draw the cash, there being nothing at all to force them to take action.
Jonah13
Hi All,

Thanks for all your help, have submitted my "Representations" and gone down the route(see what I did there!) of really poor signage both at the side of the road and on road. Have submitted a couple of images from Google Street View, which includes a great shot of the sign "in the clouds" with a Tram and Bus heading away from "Bus Gate" as I have also attempted to show that for a driver new to the area there is far too much to contend with on the road to have to start "Searching to the heavens" for road signs! Also dropped in a couple of image from the The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, showing how "Bus Gate" should be marked on road and a nice blue sign, which includes "Tram, Bus, Taxi & Cycles" confirming that this sign is available/should be used instead of their misleading "Bus, Taxi, Cycle" sign.

Will keep you posted on response from them.

Thanks again for advice and help, much appreciated.
Jonah13
Surprise, Surprise, Sheffield Council have rejected my representations!

The standard letter received does not directly address any of my reasons for cancelling PCN, apart from "My Mitigating circumstances", where I stated "as a new visitor to Sheffield I was using a satnav to direct me!" but I didn't say "I didnt look at any of the road signage, markings or traffic lights and solely relied on my satnav for driving!".

Have now opened appeal to Adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, restating poor signage issues. Fingers crossed they see how poor signage is and cancel my PCN.

Will keep you posted.

PASTMYBEST
post your representations and the notice of rejection
Jonah13
Hi All,

Case currently being reviewed by Adjudicator, who has emailed Sheffield Council asking about revised signage in the TRO 2016 and if they have sort approval of existing signs from Department of Transport, as prescribed signs not being used? Council been given until 4th Jan to respond.

I've also put in an FOI request to Sheffield Council on, How much they make from PCN fines for the last 5 years and more specifically for the Middlewood Rd Bus Gate, just in case they try to suggest no funds to update Bus Gate Signage post 2016 TRO amendments. Hopefully this will show they are coining it in on PCN fines and more specifically at the Bus Gate in question!

Fingers crossed this approval wasn't sort or the Adjudicator judges that existing signs are unlawful as new signs including Trams should be used to avoid confusion!

PS - Very impressed that the Adjudicator was working on my case and emailing council on Sunday 30th between Christmas & New Year! 5 Stars to them!

Just in case anyone else may find it useful i've included link to the TRO 2016 Amendments with all signage amendments, which may help others:-

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/36...20160362_en.pdf

cp8759
As you've posted neither your representations nor your grounds of appeal, I assume you're just posting to keep us updated rather than because you want any help.

Also not being funny, everyone on here knows the TSRGD 2016, some of us are even sad enough to be able to quite parts of it from memory :-(
PASTMYBEST
post your representations and the rejection. We often see flaws with these
Jonah13
Hi,

CP8759 - Not wishing to show people "How to suck eggs!", just attached link for people like me who don't have a clue on signage requlations, etc. and if they were unlucky enough to fall foul of the Middlewood Rd Bus Gate!

Wife always says my letters can be "wordy", but here is my representations letter to council:-

Sheffield City Council
Parking Services
PO Box 3830
Sheffield
S1 9AQ

19th November 2018

Dear Sir or Madam,

Representations Against The PCN Received 16/11/2018 – PCN No.

I was shocked to open your letter advising me of a Bus Lane Contravention, which I have no recollection of doing. After reviewing your evidence and, as this was the first time I had driven through Sheffield, looking at the road layout, etc. on Google Maps Street View, I believe I have a compelling case for the PCN to be cancelled. Please find below my representations against the PCN: -

1) Mitigating Circumstances.

This was my 1st time driving through Sheffield and I was following my Satnav along a totally unfamiliar route, which unwittingly took me through the “Bus Gate” in question. I was preoccupied, as this was my first time driving on a wet road, which had tram lines (worried about skid risk – clearly see on video footage my vehicle running parallel to tram lines!), trams, buses and other traffic running in both directions on a single carriageway. In addition, looking out for pedestrians and traffic light signals on a busy high street.

2) The PCN is for a “Bus Lane Contravention” and “Being in A Bus Lane”, but you are attempting to serve a Bus Lane PCN for a supposed “Bus Gate” violation. On all the images obtained online there is no mention of “Bus Gate” on any of the signage or road markings. How is this enforceable?

3) Signage (when reviewing them on line after receiving PCN, none of which jogged my memory of driving the route on 1st November)

I believe the signage warning me/drivers is inadequate advising of restriction leading up to the “Bus Gate”

a. The first sign (Image 1) outside B&M Stores has a lot of information on it, but no red warning, which would appear at a glance, whilst looking out for trams, buses, cars, pedestrians and avoiding the wet tram tracks, to be offering information, not clearly spelling out the lack of access to a private motor vehicle.

The Blue Sign at the top, which I have seen on signs before, does not include a “TRAM” image, which seems to imply that trams are not permitted through the “Bus Gate”. This again, if seen, would confuse the driver and reassure them that if there was access for a tram, they would not be committing an offence?


b. The sign below sign (Image 1) advises “Bus Lane Cameras”, but not “BUS GATE Cameras”, which would alert the driver to potentially the need to move over to avoid an approaching Bus Lane, which I am familiar with. If the sign had “BUS GATE CAMERAS” on it, this would have been an unfamiliar term to me (didn’t know there was such a thing!) it would have put me on my guard to ensure I did not enter this new road set up.

c. “Other Traffic” signs outside Boots & Specsavers (Image 2 & 3), give practically no information, e.g. which other traffic, trams, cars……? and are lost in high street signage. If they are to direct private motor vehicles to avoid the “Bus Gate” why are there no images/description of which traffic and no mention of times that these signs are relevant? Small signs and misleading to someone new to the area and probably most drivers.

d. Second “Bus Lane” sign outside Superdrug is in a ridiculously high position (attached Image 4, showing sign as high as a double decker bus roof). Image also shows the possible situation for a driver, a Bus and a Tram coming in the other direction. As previously stated, I was very preoccupied driving a new route, contending with wet tram lines, trams, buses, etc. and I am then expected to search to the heavens to be advised on up and coming road restrictions! Again, the lower more realistically positioned sign advises “Bus Lane Cameras” not “Bus Gate” and no inclusion of Tram access!

e. Signs at start of restriction (Image 5)? These show No access to +7.5 Ton commercial vehicles. If these change at different times depending on restriction, I can not imagine that I would have attempted to enter the restricted route if I saw Buses/Trams/Taxi/Cycle access only sign. I can only presume the signage was set to the commercial vehicle restriction or blank?

4) Road Markings.

None of the images from Google Street View show any lines or road markings advising of a “Bus Lane” as per “Bus Lane Camera” signs indicate. In addition, the only road markings that appear are just beyond the last point of escape to avoid the “Bus Gate”. These road markings are faded, green background (presumably originally Bright Green to highlight restriction) very dull, almost none existent would have been even worse on a dull wet day. Wording is poor and illegible in parts, and even if bright and clear, once again only includes Bus, Taxi & Cycles, no mention of trams (Image 5). I have also been advised that there is a specific road marking that should be used for a “Bus Gate” restriction (Image 6), Image directly copied from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 No.362 ROAD TRAFFIC, which sets out how signs and road markings should be displayed, size dimensions etc.
NB:-I am not able to revisit the location of the “Bus Gate” and have had to rely on making my comments based on reviewing Google Street view, but I have been online and other Sheffield locals have confirmed the poor signage is accurate.

In more than 30 years of driving I have never received a PCN or fine and my 1st reaction was to pay, but after reviewing the route images believe the PCN is unjustified based on my above findings. I am fully aware that, if my representations are unsuccessful, I have the right to appeal to the Bus Lane Adjudicator, which I will be exercising.

I look forward to you reviewing my case and agreeing to cancel the PCN.

Many thanks for your help, support and understanding.

Yours Faithfully


cp8759
As PASTMYBEST says, if you post their rejection we can check for errors.
Jonah13
Well, I've been shafted by "The Man", lost appeal and need to pay my £60 PCN fine. Please find below Adjudicators decision, which I have been told is final?

Mr Martin challenged the PCN raising the following issues: -
Whilst he accepted he had driven in a ‘bus gate’ the PCN had been issued for ‘being in a bus lane’ and was therefore incorrect.
The signage was poor and misleading.
The road markings were faded and almost non-existent.
The variable signage must have been set to the ‘No HGV’s’ option.
The notice of rejection is inconsistent as it makes no reference to trams being permitted to use the bus gate.
Mr Martin explained that he was new to the area and was following sat nav directions but that he was also observing road signs and markings.
The council submit that the contravention did occur and that the restriction is appropriately signed and marked.
The council have provided a copy of various traffic regulation orders (TRO’s) which created the bus lane restriction at this location. These are complex, with numerous amendments to the original 1991 order, but show that the restriction applies on the north-east side of Middlewood Road for a distance of 3 metres, ending 28 metres before the junction with Bradfield Road. In that short section of road, only buses, trams, taxis and cycles are permitted.
The council must show that this restriction is signed and marked in a manner which is compliant with the traffic signs regulations, or with authorisation received from the Department for Transport, and that the signs and road markings are adequate to let drivers know of the restriction.
When this restriction was introduced, there was no appropriate sign prescribed under the traffic signs regulations, although the 2016 regulations do include such a sign.
The sign used by the council is not compliant with the 2016 sign because it does not include a tram symbol to reflect the fact that trams are permitted to use the road. The council are, however, permitted to continue to use signs which were in place when the 2016 regulations came in and which were either compliant with the earlier regulations, or were authorised by the Department for Transport.
I therefore asked the council to explain how they came to use the signs which are in place and Miss Barker has now provided a full history. It appears that the Department for Transport initially approved signs which appear to be the same as those now included in the 2016 regulations, but would not permit the council to use any road markings in conjunction with those signs. An Adjudicator of this tribunal found that, without road markings, although the signs were compliant with the authorisation, they were not adequate to let drivers know of the restriction.
As a result of this finding, the council consulted further with the Department for Transport but they would not agree road markings in combination with a sign which included the tram symbol. It was therefore decided to amend the TRO to include trams as ‘exempt’ vehicles, rather than permitted vehicles and the Department for Transport then approved signs without the tram symbol but with road markings.
I am grateful to Miss Barker for unearthing the history and providing the documentary evidence showing that the signage now in place has been approved by the Department for Transport and, as it was in place before 2016, remains compliant.
Dealing with the issues raised by Mr Martin in the order listed above, I find as follows: -
Section 144(5) of the Transport Act 2000 provides that an area of road is or forms part of a bus lane if a Traffic Regulation Order provides that it may be used only by buses or only by buses and some other class or classes of vehicle, such as taxis, cycles and trams.
The term ‘bus gate’ is used in the Department for Transport’s Traffic Signs Manual to describe a short section of road where the whole of the road is for the use only of buses or buses and some other class or classes of vehicle, as opposed to a road where one of the lanes is for buses and there is another lane, or lanes where other traffic is permitted.
Many councils use the term, as Sheffield have done and the 2016 traffic signs regulations now permit councils to mark road surface with the words ‘Bus Gate’, but there are no prescribed bus gate signs which may be used to specify the type of bus lane. However, as the ‘bus gate’ is an area of road where only buses or buses and some other class or classes of vehicles are permitted, a bus gate falls within the legal definition of bus lane, so the PCN is correct, if somewhat confusing, in referring to a ‘bus lane’ contravention occurring in a ‘bus gate’.
2. I have noted Mr Martin’s detailed comments on the bus lane signage and markings. However, there are 2 advance warning signs each reinforced by signs at the junctions where ‘other traffic’ may turn to avoid entering the lane. It is the case that there is no red warning sign incorporated in these signs, but that would not be appropriate. The council have, instead, included the blue roundel bus lane lane.
My view is that the blue roundel sign is one which is recognisable as indicating a bus lane restriction ahead and that the signs are placed in a position where they would be visible to drivers from some distance away, even in busy traffic.
There are then variable message signs to either side of the carriageway at the start of the bus lane itself. These are set to show, during the operative hours of the bus lane, the blue roundel, incorporating cycle and bus symbols and the word ‘Taxi’, and a plate indicating ‘Only’, below. This is the appropriate sign to indicate the start of a bus lane and is the sign which has, without the tram symbol, been approved for use by the Department for Transport.
The council have also provided a copy of the variable message board sign log which confirms that the appropriate bus lane sign was showing at the time the contravention is alleged to have occurred.
It is the case that the marking on the road surface is worn, but it is still visible and I am satisfied that, overall, the signs and markings were compliant with the authorisation given and were adequate to let drivers know of the restriction ahead and the alternative route to be taken to avoid it.
3. Dealt with in 2 above.
4. Dealt with in 2 above.
5. The rejection letter does omit to mention that trams may also use the road, but my view is that this discrepancy is not material and does not affect the validity of the PCN. I did have concerns that the signs did not reflect the fact that trams are permitted to use the road, albeit by way of exemption, but on further consideration concluded that this would be obvious to road users because of the tram lines and cables and that the omission would not affect car drivers.
I accept that Mr Martin did not knowingly drive in a bus lane, but the signs were there to be seen. I also note that Mr Martin was new to the area and was following Sat Nav, but as he acknowledged, drivers must still look out for and comply with traffic signs. I therefore find that the contravention did occur and I dismiss the appeal.
Mr Martin is liable to pay the penalty charge of £60 to the council within 28 days.
cp8759
I'm not going to bother reading that, simply because we never saw the Notice of Rejection, and instead of seeking our advice, you decided to go it alone, with an unfortunate but hardly surprising outcome.
Jonah13
Thanks anyway cp8759, though their rejection letter would be standard one they used whenever challenged, sorry. You live and learn!

Did ask for FOI on how much Sheffield Council get from PCNs and wasn't surprised to see following:-

1) How much money was raised through PCN/Fines by Sheffield Council in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014?

2014: £1,289,392.61
2015: £1,251,034.58
2016: £1,387,213.24
2017: £994,915.71
2018: £1,069,780.42

2) How much money was raised through PCN/Fines for the Bus Gate on Middlewood Rd, Sheffield for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014?

2014: £156,421.47
2015: £178,510.03
2016: £173,984.82
2017: £135,464.77
2018: £129,575.89

3) How much money has been spent on improving/replacing signage & road marking for the Bus Gate on Middlewood Rd, Sheffield in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

Since 2012, Sheffield City Council has had a Private Finance Initiative contract with Amey Hallam Highways Ltd for the delivery of a complete highway maintenance service which includes all highway maintenance activities such as street lighting, street cleaning, carriageway and footway resurfacing, road markings and sign and signal maintenance etc. Payments made by the Council under the contract do not relate to the provision of specific items of work. Instead, a single payment is made for each month of the 25 year term of the contract. As a result, we do not have a figure for the costs incurred by Amey for individual operations such as replacing or maintaining road markings and signage.

Asked for this info as Council explained to the Adjudicator the changes re-signage in TSRGD 2016 were something they would look at but wanted to change all signage in one go. Presumably £129k of fines at Middlewood rd Bus Gate for 2018 isn't enough for the council to comply with prescribed signage? Am waiting to see what percentage of the people fined live within the local Sheffield postcode, which may indicate signage is confusing if majority are not local?

I know I can appeal adjudicators decision if additional information comes to light(perhaps my FOI stuff?), but.....!
cp8759
QUOTE (Jonah13 @ Tue, 5 Feb 2019 - 15:55) *
Thanks anyway cp8759, though their rejection letter would be standard one they used whenever challenged, sorry. You live and learn!

Well that's my point, a "standard" rejection that doesn't show any proper consideration is a ground of challenge in itself, and it could have won even if the original contravention were indefensible.

Forget about your FOI stuff, you only really get one shot at the tribunal.
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