26th Jun, 2022

BREAKING: We ask how much taxpayers' money Coventry council is spending on barristers to fight tribunal parking ruling

Les Reid 22nd May, 2018 Updated: 22nd May, 2018

THE Coventry Observer has today asked Coventry council how much taxpayers’ money it is spending on barristers to challenge a tribunal report which blasted its city centre parking restrictions as “deluded” and “misleading”.

It comes after the council today issued a press release to reveal a hired independent barrister had, unsurprisingly, concluded the already glaringly obvious – that the tribunal had not ruled the entire scheme was “unenforceable”, despite some misleading media reports.

As we reported, national chief parking adjudicator Caroline Shephard had instead ruled two weeks ago that the FIVE appeals by motorists put to her against fines were “unenforceable”.

She had not ruled the entire scheme at all times was “unenforceable” – and this newspaper had not reported she had.

She did however criticise in scathing words attack the whole basis for the Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) inside the ring road which has since 2012 banned all parking except in designated parking bays.

She said a lack of signage to inform motorists of it was confusing and misleading, and she accused Coventry City Council of acting with “delusion” of “King Canute” proportions in denying the problems for motorists, while continuing to fine transgressing drivers.

She backed campaigners’ calls in concluding 60,000 fines for motorists – which raked in millions of pounds for council coffers – demonstrated the scheme was misleading and not working.

Council highways boss Colin Knight a fortnight ago announced the council was instructing a barrister with a view to challenging the ruling.

The council said there would be no refunds, and Coun Jayne Innes, cabinet member for city services which was responsible for the RPZ went strangely absent from fronting up the media over the furure.

Today Coventry City Council has issued the following press release. It states:

“Expert legal advice regarding the restricted parking scheme across Coventry city centre has confirmed the scheme remains enforceable.

“The move was sought following a ruling by the Chief Adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal on the appeal of five tickets earlier this month.

“The ruling raised concerns about the enforceability of the city centre-wide restricted parking zone (RPZ) in some areas, but this has fear has been dismissed by expert legal advice from a barrister specialising in this area of law.

“She found that the issues highlighted in the report were site specific to the five appeals and do not call into question the wider enforceability of the whole restricted zone.

“Counsel advice concluded: “It is my opinion that the RPZ is lawful and legally enforceable subject to adequate signage.”

“Coventry City Council continues to review signage across the RPZ and is replacing signs that have become damaged or obscured by vegetation. Additional repeater signage continues to be installed as needed.

“Councillor Abdul Khan, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for enforcement said: “This expert, specialist legal advice reaffirms what we already knew – that our scheme remains fully enforceable.

““The signs were approved by the Department for Transport and the barrister’s advice confirms that the adjudicator’s ruling on these five tickets has no impact on other fines issued since the scheme started in 2012.

“It remains lawful and we will continue to enforce the scheme.”

“Although the Chief Adjudicator’s report stated almost 60,000 fines have been issued over the last six years, it failed to clarify that more than 70 per cent of these relate to issues such as vehicles parking for longer in marked bays than they paid for or parking in disabled bays when they were not entitled to.

“Around 14,000 tickets over six years relate directly to parking in the zone but outside a bay and 40 per cent of these tickets issued were to repeat offenders.

“Colin Knight, Coventry City Council’s Director of Transportation and Highways added: “We believe one scheme across the city centre is far less confusing to motorists than different schemes being enforced in neighbouring streets, despite what the adjudicator says.

“This can be seen by the fact that the number of tickets issued dropped by 18% between 2011, the last year before the RPZ, and the first year of implementation in 2012.

“Over the last six years the RPZ has helped to improve the safety and look of the city and we remain happy to meet with the Chief Adjudicator to discuss our scheme with her further.”

We await council responses to our questions.

A Council spokesperson said. “The first step in any possible future legal challenge was always going to be consulting with a barrister. This is a highly complex and specialist area so it was important that we sought independent and expert advice ahead of any next steps.”

We await answers to our further questions.

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