Heh heh heh
Sent PATAS appeal form with 5 pages of appeal notes and asked for personal hearing. Appeal based on:
1) No warning of suspension given and therefore suspension in immediate effect from 1/6/11. PCN issued 2/6/11 9am
2) After 1 phone call, a letter, another phone call and email no one at Harrow could tell me when the suspension signs were put up and I believe my car was already parked when signs went up. 3 weeks after PCN issued on 2/6/11, they eventually came up with a date and time "proving" the signs were up when I parked in susp bay but they were unable to provide photos or any other evidence to back up their claim when I visited the council offices.
3) I said I was currently investigating issues re TMO and TROs and would be asking council to provide evidence that they had complied with procedures.
Got hearing date of 22/11/11.
Yesterday got letter from PATAS saying Harrow Council will not contest my appeal and hearing has been cancelled, I'm not liable for any charges etc.
So pleased to have beaten them but so angry that they pushed it this far and tried to bully me into paying a fine when they knew they did not have evidence to back up their case.
Here is text of my letter I hope it helps someone else -it's long and wordy but these people have wasted enough of my time and I wanted to give them something to do. . . .plus it's always nice to quote the enforcement guidance back at them!!!
A BIG THANKS TO PEPIPOO this fabulous site gave me the confidence to carry on with my appeal and searching the forum and PATAS website gave me lots of information.
On 1/6/11 around 1pm I parked the car in a shared pay and display/CPZ residents parking bay at the end of XXXXX road. I did not see any suspended parking signs. I am unable to see this area from my house and did not leave the house again until 9am 2/6.
At 9am on 2/6 I came out to the car to see a Parking Attendant issuing a ticket. I asked why and he gestured at a suspension of parking sign. I asked when the sign was put up and he said 1/6. When I said I was unaware of the suspension he said I would have to write to the council about it. He took several photos of me, the car and suspension sign.
Immediately I phoned the number shown on the suspension sign and spoke to XXXXXX in the council’s parking department. He said he didn’t know when the signs went up and had no information to say when it had happened. He looked at the jobsheet and said that as the “job” came in on 31/5 he assumed it had probably been done then. When I challenged this and told him the Parking Attendant told me the signs were put up 1/6 he conceded this may have been the case. The suspension period was from 1/6 to 3/6 so the suspension was immediately effective and no warning had been given.
I checked the area at 10:30am on 1/6/11 when I left the same parking bays and there were no suspension or warning of suspension signs then. Less than24 hrs later I had been issued a PCN. The signs were erected sometime on 1/6/11. I believe the signs were put up after my car was already parked in the bay and as no advance warning was given I could not have been aware of the suspension.
On 2/6/11 I wrote to the council explaining what had happened and got a standard reply which did not address my queries and saying simply that as I was parked in a suspended bay I had to pay a fine.
On 14/6/11 I rang the council and spoke to XXXXXX in the customer service dept. I explained that I believe the suspension signs were put up after I was parked and I needed to know the exact date and time parking was suspended. She was unable to supply the information from details on the computer system so put me on hold while she spoke to Parking Department who were again unable to give any date or time. XXXXXX advised that I email the council and explain my concerns again. She said she felt that without this information the council would not be able to uphold PCN ticket. I sent an email to the address she gave me.
On 24/6/11 I received a letter advising that suspension signs were put up at 11:45 on 1/6. I wanted to query this as I was sure parking was not suspended when I parked there and wanted to be sure this information was correct and not a time it “probably” went up according to some jobsheet. I attended the Civic Centre that day and saw XXXXXX in the 1 Stop Shop. I asked:
• how the 1/6/11 11:45 stated in the letter had been come by after all this time as this information had not been available the 3 times previously I’d asked for it;
• to see photos taken when the suspension signs were put up and details of vehicles parked in the area at that time;
• Photos of advance warning signs re parking suspension
XXXXXXX said there was nothing on the system to say when the suspension notices were posted, or where the 1/6/11 11:45 stated in their letter had come from. The photos she showed me on the computer system were all taken by the Parking Attendant on 2/6 when PCN issued. There were no photos of when the suspension sign was first put up or showing vehicles parked at the time. She called the Parking Department and asked them for information about where the 11:45 time had come from, photos taken when the suspension signs were put up and details of vehicles parked at the time. Parking were unable to tell her this information and said they didn’t know how the 11:45 time had been arrived at but would continue to look for it and ring her back. I waited while XXXXXXX saw another customer and called Parking back. They were still unable to provide photos, reg numbers, say where the 11:45 time had been taken from or any other info regarding the case. I spent 1 hour at the Council trying to resolve this issue which is surely a simple admin matter.
XXXXXX understood my frustration but advised me that as the council had “dealt” with the matter informally they would not enter into any further correspondence and said that if I was sure I was in the right I should take the case to formal Notice to Owner stage. This I did albeit reluctantly as it meant I lost the chance to pay at the reduced rate if found to be at fault.
Notice to Owner appeal lodged on 29/7/11
Letter received dated 23/8/11 NTO appeal rejected Grounds for appealGrounds for appeal 1) No advance warning given of parking suspension
– I believe it is usual to provide a few days advance warning of parking suspensions but was unable to find Harrow’s policy regarding warning residents of such works on their website (although it does say “Suspensions cannot be provided on demand and take a minimum of 5 working days to be issued”. I understand for emergency work it may not always be possible to give notice. Roadworks involving temporary traffic lights were being carried out on the Pinner Road further up near XXXXXX Road but these had been ongoing for several days before the suspension of parking notice went up. No reason was given on sign for the suspension. No roadworks appear to have been done in XXXXX Road at anytime during suspension period.
In its letter the council says the suspension was not enforced until 2/6 giving residents a chance to move their cars – this is not a substitute for advance warning especially where residents park their cars overnight for longer than short shopping trips to local shops and especially when a suspension comes into immediate effect. I am aware of the need to check signs daily as set out in the notes accompanying my CPZ permit and make a point of checking so I know no suspension or warning of such was in effect when I left the parking bays at around 10:30am on 1/6. I do not believe the suspension of parking signs were in place when I returned 3hrs later and I next checked the signs on 2/6 9am – daily should be sufficient, I cannot reasonably be expected to check more frequently. No letters or phone calls about the parking suspension were received. The council could not provide evidence of advance warning when I visited the Civic centre on 24/6.Grounds for appeal 2) Evidence
I believe the suspended parking signs were put up after I was already parked in the bay on 1/6. After phoning on 2/6, writing on 3/6, phoning on 14/6 no one could give me the date and time suspension signs were put up. Then when 1/6/11 11:45am was given as the time, I visited Council Offices to query it but they were unable to supply any evidence to back up their claim. In the same way I can examine photographic evidence taken by the parking attendant that I was indeed parked in a suspended bay on 2/6, I should be able to examine evidence proving what time the signs went up and what cars were parked there at the time. While looking for information re council policy on advance warning of parking suspension, a link on their website led me to the London Councils website – in the Code of Practice on Civil Parking and Traffic Enforcement the main duties of CEOs are set out and section 16 suggests further useful duties of CEOs:
“ Parking attendants have a primary duty to enforce parking regulations efficiently, effectively and fairly and they should not become involved in issues that do not concern them (e.g. stray dogs, defective footways, street lighting or lost property) if such activities unduly distract them from their primary function and so lead to ineffectual enforcement. Further activities related to stationary vehicles in the SPA which could easily be added to the parking attendants' duties are as follows:a) issue information leaflets. If authorities consider that issuing a PCN in every instance is not the most appropriate way of dealing with a particular contravention, issue a warning notice. Or leave notices on vehicles warning of an imminent suspension, particularly if there is only time for a short notice period;
b) make a note of any invalid tax discs seen and report to base or the appropriate office that deals with untaxed vehicles if untaxed vehicles are seen. Any activity of this kind will help to keep DVLA records up to date and reduce future difficulties in tracing owners;
c) report suspected abandoned vehicles. As well as collecting PCNs that may not be recoverable,these may prevent other drivers using a parking space;
d) report on changes in parking patterns to complement the authority's monitoring surveys. These could form part of regular reviews of enforcement/compliance and support policy changes;e) put up notices giving advanced warning of, or announcing the commencement of, suspensions of parking places. When appropriate, they should also record registration numbers of cars in position when the advanced warning notices are out up or the suspension starts. This may be needed when later considering cancellation of any PCNs or the refund of clamping or removal costs;”
16a) may have been appropriate in my case and the duties set out in 16e) do not appear to have been adopted by Harrow Council leading to a loss of important evidence.
The council apologises that I was not given the relevant information in relation to my case but still does not provide evidence of advance warning signs, dates and times etc. The photos enclosed with the Notice of Rejection letter are the same as those shown to me by XXXXXX on the council computer system and were taken by the Parking Attendant when the PCN was issued on 2/6 and are not evidence that the parking suspension signs were in place when I parked.
The council may have evidence to back up its claims but chosen to withhold it. While researching this appeal I came across WESTMINSTER CITY COUNCIL vs TERENCE CHASE CASE No 1960113778 (PCN No WE44925758) APPLICATION FOR REVIEW OF THE DECISION OF THE PARKING ADJUDICATOR in the key cases section of the PATAS website. While the detail of the case is different from mine I was particularly struck by the following paragraph in the Evidence in Appeals before the Parking Adjudicator section 2:
“By Regulation 4(2) of the Regulations, upon receipt of a notice of appeal, an authority must lodge with the Parking Appeal Service a copy of:
"(a) the original representation [i.e. the representations from the appellant to the Council];
(b) a copy of the relevant charge notice (if any) [i.e. the PCN]; and
© a copy of the notice served under Section 71(6) of, or (as the case may be) paragraph
2(7) of Schedule 6 to, the [Road Traffic] Act  [i.e. the Council's letter rejecting the appellant's original representation]".
The Regulations do not require the authority to submit any other evidence. However, as the Council readily accepted in this case, the burden of proof in proving the contravention (and proper issue and service of the PCN) lies upon the authority, and they are consequently bound to submit at least sufficient evidence to satisfy that burden.
And in section 6.
“There is no express duty of disclosure on either an owner or an authority.However, where an authority has relevant evidence - particularly evidence relating to a specific issue raised by an owner - it is incumbent on that authority to disclose this to the owner. A failure to do so would lead to a patent injustice to the owner. For example, where the Parking Attendant's contemporaneous notes include relevant material - perhaps supporting the owner's case - these must be disclosed to the owner at the appropriate time. Where the owner raises a point in representations in respect of which the authority has relevant evidence, that evidence should be disclosed at that (representation) stage: it should not be withheld until any appeal is made. The reason for this is not just that for an authority to withhold evidence in such circumstances would be patently unfair: disclosure of evidence at that stage also limits the number of unnecessary appeals to the Parking Appeals Service, because an owner may be persuaded not to proceed to an appeal if he has disclosed to him cogent evidence in the hands of the authority.
Certainly, where an authority relies upon specific information in an appeal to the Parking Appeals Service (e.g. they rely upon contemporaneous notes of the parking attendant of the tax disc details, or other details concerning the vehicle), this must be disclosed to the appellant.”
Photographic evidence of the council’s claims should be produced in time for someone to be able to examine it and make a decision whether or not to pay within the reduced rate period. No evidence was available to me when I phoned 2/6/11, wrote 3/6/11 and phoned 14/6/11. When I visited the council offices on 24/6/11 and specifically asked to see evidence to support their claim no one in Parking was able to provide it.
If the Council does not have the required evidence, it has continued pursue payment of this fine contrary to the advice given in “Operational Guidance to Local Authorities: Parking Policy and Enforcement Traffic Management Act 2004” Chapter 11 Challenges, representations and appeals which states:
o “11.3 It is in the interests of the authority and the vehicle owner to resolve any dispute at the earliest possible stage. Authorities should take account of the CEO’s actions in issuing the PCN, but should always give challenges and representations a fresh and impartial consideration.
o 11.4 An authority has a discretionary power to cancel a PCN at any point throughout the CPE process. It can do this even when an undoubted contravention has occurred if the authority deems it to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case. Under general principles of public law, authorities have a duty to act fairly and proportionately and are encouraged to exercise discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest.”
I was indeed parked in a suspended bay at 2/6/11 9am but my appeal is based on the fact that I could not reasonably have been expected to know the bay had been suspended. The events detailed in this letter show that I have tried to resolve this matter at an early stage and at every stage thereafter. If the council has evidence to support its claims why not provide it in a timely fashion enabling me to pay at the reduced rate? If it doesn’t, it has knowingly acted in an unscrupulous way to try and bully me into paying a fine.
Grounds for appeal 3) Legality of sign, Traffic Management Order – during my research it became apparent that signs used by local authorities do not always comply to legislation and that suspension of parking spaces is bound by very specific rules and procedures. I am currently investigating whether all Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), traffic signs and road markings in my case are in compliance with legal requirements and the traffic signs and road markings are consonant with the orders. I have asked Harrow Council to provide this evidence and believe they are duty bound to provide it as part of their evidence to PATAS.
I’m sorry there is so much paperwork but I wanted to show that I have made concerted efforts to establish the facts and find a solution to this matter at every stage. "