THE council is facing serious accusations it has misled the public by falsely claiming yellow lines in the city centre – which shouldn ‘t be there – are only there because black paint over them has worn off.
It made the claim in response to our website story on Wednesday – carried on our front page yesterday, headlined: ‘Council ‘breaking its own rules’ on parking.
But campaigners and city centre traders have responded by saying it is untrue, lining up to say that the double yellow lines have been there for decades and have never been painted over.
And photographs of several of the streets concerned shown no sign there was ever any black paint on long stretches of double yellow lines.
Campaigners say the double yellows unfairly encourage parking where there are no yellow lines despite the whole city centre being a no parking zone (except for parking bays).
Coventry City Council has issued more than 60,000 Penalty Charge Notices relating to the zone, which is now being examined by the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal after some motorists appealed against fines.
As we reported, the council had for days failed to respond to us concerning the issue raised by road safety campaigner Richard Heneghan on his @KovBlog (Cov Road Safety) Twitter account.
The council website’s advice to drivers about the zone introduced in 2011 explicitly states: “All yellow lines have been removed, but it is illegal to park anywhere in the city centre other than in clearly defined bays.
“The zone extends across the whole city centre. You can only park in marked, metered bays.”
But Mr Heneghan’s photographs show double yellow lines in Bishop Street, Tower Street, Lamb Street, the Burges and Silver Street.
After our website published the story, the council contacted us with the following response.
“The position regarding our Restricted Parking Zone has not changed – it was put together with the Department for Transport and remains fully approved by them.
“The zone indicates that motorists must park in the bays provided – this has been the case since the zone was first introduced.
“The double yellow lines were all removed within the zone. In some areas where black paint has worn out to reveal yellow lines these will be blacked out as part of ongoing maintenance work.”
Mr Heneghan responded by tweeting pictures of the Burges in recent years adding: “The double yellows have NEVER been painted over. This applies to the other roads featured in the article also.”
He said many traders in the Burges and other streets, who did not want to be named, confirmed they had never been painted over with black lines.
A Jesus Centre spokesperson said: “As far as the centre are aware, the yellow lines on Lamb Street have never been covered over in black paint, and definitely not since the direction of the road was altered a number of years ago.”
Perry Pericleous, of Impulse bar and club in The Burges confirmed that, in his 25 years as a proprietor at the premises, the double yellow lines along the Burges have been thereand have never been covered in black paint, as has been done in other areas of the city centre.
Daljit Nahil of Subway restaurant in The Burges also confirmed the parking restrictions had been there for the 19 years he had been.
It follows Conservative councillor Tim Sawdon last month raising concerns about a perceived inadequate number of signs in the zone which notify motorists about the restrictions, a complaint dismissed by council officials.
He claimed not all 60,000 fines could have been issued to irresponsible motorists deliberating infringing the rules, adding the high number demonstrated the scheme was not working fairly.
The entire legality of the scheme is now being questioned by campaigners, and the tribunal’s review has been awaited for several weeks.
Coun Sawdon also claimed there was a lack of evidence about the zone’s authorisation with the government’s Department for Transport when it was set up – with documents missing.
He also claims there was no clear reason why the council had satisfied the “exceptional circumstances” required to introduce such a scheme.
He argues all motorists recognised double yellow lines as a clearer system of notifying them where the cannot park.
It comes amid ongoing controversy, also covered by the Observer, about fines for entering the city’s bus gates. The independent tribunal has upheld numerous appeals and concluded there was “inadequate” signage.
We await a response from Coventry City Council to campaigners’ claims they have not told the truth, and to the evidence from traders and photographs.