Council defends paying barrister in row over fines
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.”