A government inspector has ruled that the City of York Council did not have the appropriate powers to issue parking fines to motorists on Lendal Bridge, because signs and poor descriptions meant that bus lanes were not clearly or properly marked. The Council has said that it is seeking independent legal advice and that motorists should continue to obey the traffic laws. Specialist driving offence lawyer Nick Freeman, often referred to as Mr Loophole, has said that the 53,000 motorists that were fined for parking in the area should request reimbursement, and that the £1.3m in fines should be reimbursed.
Councils are expected to follow protocol and guidelines when setting out road signs, including bus lane signs, and signs that prohibit motorists from parking in certain areas. Guidelines are not only given regarding the shape and design of the roadside signs, but markings on the road itself and the layout of the roads.
New restrictions approaching Coppergate in Leeds have been causing confusion with motorists for some time. The Council say that there are bus routes that motorists should not be allowed to park on, but those that have received fines have argued that the signs are ambiguous and misleading. Stephen Knapp of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal was forced to intervene in order to determine the efficacy of motorists’ claims.
Lendal Bridge has effectively been closed to motorists in a 6 month trial, but Mr Knapp has judged that the signs and signage does not adequately indicate that the areas are bus lanes. He went on to say that this means that the City of York Council did not have the power to impose the £1.3m of fines that were levied against those that were deemed to have parked illegally.
Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, said that the “approximately £1.3m should be reimbursed to the 53,000 motorists who have been issued with these penalty charge notices” and went on to “urge all of the 53,000 motorists to contact York City Council by letter or email requesting a refund of their money.” The Council has said that motorists should continue to obey the restrictions, while they seek independent legal advice on the matter.