Temporary parking suspensions, announced through notices stuck on lampposts, trees etc, are legitimately used to reserve spaces for utility works, removal vans, skips and so on. But problems arise when our cars, innocently parked on these spots when owners go away on holiday or on business trips before the notice goes up, are deemed to be in contravention of the suspension if it comes into force in their absence and attracts a parking fine.
In response to a discussion about this issue on our street WhatsApp conversation, I offered to write to our councillors to see whether they could offer a solution. I have now emailed the two most active of our ward councillors, Jim Dickson and Deepak Sardiwal.
Here is the text of what I have written:
Several of my neighbours here have asked me if I could raise an issue with you, in the hope of finding a pragmatic solution. I’m guessing that you yourselves will not know the answer either, but perhaps you can ask the appropriate team for their advice. The problem, you will see, is not unique to our street and probably not to this borough.
We are in a CPZ zone, which works pretty well. From time to time, notices are fixed on lampposts or trees announcing that parking is suspended at specific nearby areas, for a variety of reasons – utility works, removal vans, skips etc. We are supposed to take note of these warnings and make sure not to park our cars there during the prohibited times. We all understand this, even though sometimes people don’t realise that the notice applies to parts of the street somewhat distant from where the notice is a fixed. But that is not what worries us at the moment. We are learning to be vigilant.
The real problem arises when car owners are absent both when the notice is affixed and when the ban comes into effect. This can happen quite easily. People can go away on holiday or travelling on business for two or three weeks (or even longer) legitimately leaving their cars behind, parked in such an area in all innocence. They can easily be away both when the notice goes up and when the ban comes into effect.
This gives rise to two problems. The parts of the road earmarked for use by, for instance, utility companies, skips, removal vans and so on will inadvertently remain blocked, thus frustrating the original purpose of the parking suspension. Secondly however, any cars parked entirely legally and in good conscience in that spot automatically become liable for a parking penalty without the owners knowing or having the opportunity to avert the situation. They can come back to find an expensive penalty notice on their windscreen.
But attempts to appeal the penalty almost always fail. And naturally the traffic enforcement officers cannot judge whether the car they are ticketing was just parked there carelessly the night before, or had been put there innocently in advance of the ban being announced.
This strikes us as unjustified. It causes great resentment towards the Council.
We have seen suggestions that parking authorities sometimes advise that, to avoid this situation, residents planning to be absent from the street for more than one or two days should empower family members or neighbours to move their cars if the need arises. But this is not a practical solution. It may even be illegal. Many people would not be insured to drive other people’s cars, or would be reluctant to do so for numerous reasons.
So we would like to ask if you could raise this with the parking teams and see whether they can advise on a possible solution, or arguments that could validly be advanced for making an exception in the case of an appeal.
Thank you in advance for looking into this issue.