Coun­cil de­fends pay­ing bar­ris­ter in row over fines

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

Coven­try City Coun­cil has de­fended its de­ci­sion to spend a four-fig­ure sum of tax­payer’s money on a bar­ris­ter to de­fend a city cen­tre park­ing zone af­ter it was trashed in a scathing re­port.

the au­thor­ity said it had hired the bar­ris­ter to “pro­vide re­as­sur­ance” af­ter the traf­fic Penalty tri­bunal (tPt) slammed the coun­cil’s city cen­tre re­stricted Park­ing Zone (rPZ) in May.

Chief Ad­ju­di­ca­tor Caroline Sheppard oBe ruled that the rPZ was “un­en­force­able” and that signs were “con­fus­ing”, claims which were de­nied by coun­cil bosses.

the re­port came as a re­sult of the tPt in­ves­ti­gat­ing five sep­a­rate park­ing tick­ets is­sued within the rPZ – an area which has seen al­most 60,000 fines handed out in the last six years.

In re­sponse, the coun­cil con­firmed it would be in­struct­ing a bar­ris­ter to “to see what grounds we have to chal­lenge the find­ings”.

Shortly af­ter the ini­tial re­port was pub­lished, the coun­cil did in­deed hire a bar­ris­ter, and her find­ings were soon pub­lished, plac­ing the rPZ in a far bet­ter light.

the coun­cil claim the bar­ris­ter – who spe­cialises in this area of the law – found 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.

How­ever, the bar­ris­ter did say the zone was en­force­able “sub­ject to ad­e­quate sig­nage”.

the coun­cil has con­firmed that it is con­tin­u­ing to re­view sig­nage across the rPZ, re­plac­ing signs that have be­come dam­aged or have had their vis­i­bil­ity com­pro­mised.

A large num­ber of ad­di­tional signs – around 100 – have since been erected across the city, in­clud­ing some of the five lo­ca­tions which sparked the tPt in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the first place.

Cllr 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.”

the coun­cil said: “the Coun­cil felt it was im­por­tant that spe­cial­ist and in­de­pen­dent le­gal ad­vice should be sought in this highly com­plex area to en­sure that the rPZ was en­force­able, which has now been con­firmed.”

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