QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| NEIL HERRON
PARKING APPEALS LIMITED
|- and -
|THE PARKING ADJUDICATOR
|SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL (1)
PARKING AND TRAFFIC APPEALS (2)
TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL (3)
NCP SERVICE LIMITED (4)
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT (5)
Ian Rogers (instructed on behalf of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal) for the Defendant
Stephen Sauvain QC and Jonathan Easton (instructed by the Solicitor, Sunderland City Council) for the City Council
Jessica Simor (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State
Hearing date: 18 May 2010
Crown Copyright ©
Mr. Justice Bean :
"Although I am very sceptical about the correctness of the approach to the legislation which the Claimants advance, I cannot say that it is so unarguable that a full hearing to consider it is unwarranted."
The statutory regime
"Paragraph (1) shall not apply to a road marking placed on a road within a controlled parking zone if signs shown in diagram 663 or 663.1 [upright signs saying "controlled zone" or "voucher parking zone" with a no waiting sign and indicating the prohibited hours] have been placed at the entrances for vehicular traffic into the zone, except where the road marking is placed to indicate restrictions different from the restrictions indicated on those signs."
"….an area (i) in which, except where parking places have been provided, every road has been marked with one or more of the road markings shown in diagrams 1017 [single yellow line], 1018.1 [double yellow line, indicating no waiting at any time], 1019 [no loading or unloading at certain times] and 1020.1 [no loading or unloading at any time]; and (ii) into which each entrance for vehicular traffic has been indicated by the sign shown in diagram 663 or 663.1…)." [There is an alternative definition which does not apply.]
"The Secretary of State's view is that motorists cannot reasonably be expected to read, understand and remember the parking restrictions at the entrance to a Controlled Parking Zone that covers an area of more than a dozen streets. CPZs rely solely on zone entry signs to give times of operation and to remove the need for time plates within the zone, except on lengths of road where the restrictions apply at different times to the rest of the zone. The area of a CPZ should, therefore, be restricted to, for example, a town centre shopping area. A single zone covering a whole town, or suburb of a conurbation would be much too large. Conventional time plate signing, without zone entry signs should accompany the yellow sign markings where large areas have waiting restrictions. Time plates are not necessary where there are double yellow lines."
Mr. Jones submitted that the larger the CPZ, the greater the risk of confusion. If traffic authorities designate large areas as CPZs and in consequence fall foul of the technical interpretation of Regulation 4 for which he contends, he argued, they have only themselves to blame.
"One asks, therefore, here, whether this was the prescribed sign. I thought at one point that it might be said that the older intermittent line on a sensible approach forms no part of the double white line sign, that it is old and it is just not completely rubbed out, but, as was pointed out, even if one assumed that it was subtracted and formed no part of the line itself, the distance between the two continuous white lines is a long way different from that prescribed by the Regulations. Accordingly, as it seems to me, and apart from authority, much as one sympathises with the approach of the Justices it is impossible to say that an offence was committed."
"The ancient rule was that penal statutes are to be construed strictly… on the theory that the legislature must make its intention clear if it proposes to have people punished. The rule was important at a time when many crimes were punishable by death, but it has not necessarily lost all its value in these more lenient days."
"It is something of a relief to be able to conclude that an appeal, so entirely based on technicality, and so utterly devoid of merit should be dismissed."