Some parking signs have never been authorised for use in Waltham Forest

Signs for suspended parking bays have never been authorised by the government for use in Waltham Forest, it has emerged - but the council insists fines are still valid.


An investigation by the BBC has revealed that Waltham Forest is one of 14 London boroughs which have failed to apply for permission to use their own designs for such signs.


The BBC says this could mean almost 350,000 parking fines in the capital - totalling an estimated £23million - could be invalid.


But Waltham Forest Council says only 48 fines in suspended bays have been issued in the borough over the last 10 years, and insists they are all legally valid.


A council spokesman dismissed the BBC's report as "a pretty weak case of investigative journalism".
 

However he added that the authority would now apply to get their signs authorised "in order to counter any further attempts to suggest wrongdoing".


The BBC's investigation is based on a court judgement in 2010 which overturned a fine in Camden on the grounds that proper permission for the signage had not been sought by the council there.


But London Councils, an umbrella body which represents local authorities in the capital, said a subsequent ruling meant this was not necessary.


Most road signs are designed and approved by the Department for Transport (DfT) before they can be used.
 

While parking bays are often suspended for building works, the DfT has never produced a version for suspended bays.
 

Legally councils must therefore seek permission to produce their own signs, but London Councils cites a 2011 judgement which said this was a "technicality" and that unauthorised signs were still valid as long as motorists were not misled.
 

But critics say council continued to apply for permission for signs since the ruling, suggesting such a position is not legally watertight.

London Councils said in a statement: “We have told the BBC that they have got this wrong in two ways.
 

"First, the Camden case does not provide a legal precedent.


"Second, in any case the law has since changed so that any clear sign is now allowed even if it does not formally comply with the signs regulations."
 

A council spokesman said that in Camden regulations explicitly stated only authorised signs could be used for temporary suspension of bays.

But he said in Waltham Forest traffic orders meant only 'no waiting' or 'no stopping' signs could be used with "additional information" alongside them which the council insists cannot be classed as part of a sign.

He added: "What this all adds up to is a pretty weak case of investigative journalism that leaves as many questions as answers in terms of the historic fines, but needless to say we are confident that no motorist issued with one of the 48 tickets was misled.


"They parked in suspended bays that were clearly and legally signed to that effect, were subsequently issued with tickets which they paid."
 

But Richard Bentley, a former police officer and sign consultant, told the BBC: "Each council is fully aware they have to apply to the secretary of state if they want to use signing that isn't set out within the regulations.


"It is astounding authorities ignore the very laws there to help them."

 

Comments (11)

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3:56pm Mon 11 Feb 13

sunn says...

Too much power centralised at the DfT if local authorities have to get permission for a sign as ridiculous as one suspending a parking bay.
Too much power centralised at the DfT if local authorities have to get permission for a sign as ridiculous as one suspending a parking bay. sunn
  • Score: 0

4:08pm Mon 11 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

Can't believe the council is still doing this! In 2009, the WF Guardian ran a story about a local man proving the parking signs were incorrect, so they had to refund his parking fine.

http://www.guardian-
series.co.uk/news/wf
news/4212857.WALTHAM
STOW__Council_sign_e
rror_leads_to_parkin
g_refund

Four years later, no one at WF Council has bothered to check whether any of their other signs were (as seemed likely) also incorrect. Have they even amended the ones proved illegal in 2009?
Can't believe the council is still doing this! In 2009, the WF Guardian ran a story about a local man proving the parking signs were incorrect, so they had to refund his parking fine. http://www.guardian- series.co.uk/news/wf news/4212857.WALTHAM STOW__Council_sign_e rror_leads_to_parkin g_refund Four years later, no one at WF Council has bothered to check whether any of their other signs were (as seemed likely) also incorrect. Have they even amended the ones proved illegal in 2009? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Mon 11 Feb 13

mdj says...

It's curious how the Council spokespeople suddenly slip into anonymity when the flak comes in!
When the PR looks good, isn't it usually Cllr Loakes who wants to get his name in the prints?
Today one imagines a muffled figure with a brown paper bag over their head.

Whatever the rights of this particular story, our council has a bad record of ignoring, bending and breaking the law, including on this actual topic, and then wriggling out of fixing the damage.
Readers may recall seeing some of these stories previously in this paper:

•WALTHAMSTOW: Council sign error leads to parking refund
1:56pm Wednesday 18 March 2009;
•LEYTONSTONE: Council forced to refund thousands in traffic fines
10:24am Wednesday 27 February 2008 ;
•LEYTONSTONE: Council keeps most of illegal box junction cash
12:14pm Tuesday 10 November 2009
•WALTHAMSTOW: Council traffic sign breaks law
4:57pm Friday 22 January 2010 ;

There was also the story of the Council misleading the police for four years into illegally stopping, searching and possibly arresting people carrying alcohol in a zone in Leytonstone that had not been validly set up. The potential legal risk this incompetence exposed us to could have been astronomic, so one can place no confidence in the comments from the council's masked mystery spokesman today.
It's curious how the Council spokespeople suddenly slip into anonymity when the flak comes in! When the PR looks good, isn't it usually Cllr Loakes who wants to get his name in the prints? Today one imagines a muffled figure with a brown paper bag over their head. Whatever the rights of this particular story, our council has a bad record of ignoring, bending and breaking the law, including on this actual topic, and then wriggling out of fixing the damage. Readers may recall seeing some of these stories previously in this paper: •WALTHAMSTOW: Council sign error leads to parking refund 1:56pm Wednesday 18 March 2009; •LEYTONSTONE: Council forced to refund thousands in traffic fines 10:24am Wednesday 27 February 2008 ; •LEYTONSTONE: Council keeps most of illegal box junction cash 12:14pm Tuesday 10 November 2009 •WALTHAMSTOW: Council traffic sign breaks law 4:57pm Friday 22 January 2010 ; There was also the story of the Council misleading the police for four years into illegally stopping, searching and possibly arresting people carrying alcohol in a zone in Leytonstone that had not been validly set up. The potential legal risk this incompetence exposed us to could have been astronomic, so one can place no confidence in the comments from the council's masked mystery spokesman today. mdj
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Mon 11 Feb 13

mdj says...

Another thought occurs:
' Waltham Forest Council says only 48 fines in suspended bays have been issued in the borough over the last 10 years'.

If they have these records, how can they credibly claim that it was impossible to repay many thousands of pounds to those motorists who were unlawfully fined at the box junction in Leytonstone High Road?
Unlawfully taking the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving them of it is the definition of theft in English law.
Another thought occurs: ' Waltham Forest Council says only 48 fines in suspended bays have been issued in the borough over the last 10 years'. If they have these records, how can they credibly claim that it was impossible to repay many thousands of pounds to those motorists who were unlawfully fined at the box junction in Leytonstone High Road? Unlawfully taking the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving them of it is the definition of theft in English law. mdj
  • Score: 0

5:21pm Mon 11 Feb 13

SXH says...

mdj wrote:
It's curious how the Council spokespeople suddenly slip into anonymity when the flak comes in! When the PR looks good, isn't it usually Cllr Loakes who wants to get his name in the prints? Today one imagines a muffled figure with a brown paper bag over their head. Whatever the rights of this particular story, our council has a bad record of ignoring, bending and breaking the law, including on this actual topic, and then wriggling out of fixing the damage. Readers may recall seeing some of these stories previously in this paper: •WALTHAMSTOW: Council sign error leads to parking refund 1:56pm Wednesday 18 March 2009; •LEYTONSTONE: Council forced to refund thousands in traffic fines 10:24am Wednesday 27 February 2008 ; •LEYTONSTONE: Council keeps most of illegal box junction cash 12:14pm Tuesday 10 November 2009 •WALTHAMSTOW: Council traffic sign breaks law 4:57pm Friday 22 January 2010 ; There was also the story of the Council misleading the police for four years into illegally stopping, searching and possibly arresting people carrying alcohol in a zone in Leytonstone that had not been validly set up. The potential legal risk this incompetence exposed us to could have been astronomic, so one can place no confidence in the comments from the council's masked mystery spokesman today.
Well said.
[quote][p][bold]mdj[/bold] wrote: It's curious how the Council spokespeople suddenly slip into anonymity when the flak comes in! When the PR looks good, isn't it usually Cllr Loakes who wants to get his name in the prints? Today one imagines a muffled figure with a brown paper bag over their head. Whatever the rights of this particular story, our council has a bad record of ignoring, bending and breaking the law, including on this actual topic, and then wriggling out of fixing the damage. Readers may recall seeing some of these stories previously in this paper: •WALTHAMSTOW: Council sign error leads to parking refund 1:56pm Wednesday 18 March 2009; •LEYTONSTONE: Council forced to refund thousands in traffic fines 10:24am Wednesday 27 February 2008 ; •LEYTONSTONE: Council keeps most of illegal box junction cash 12:14pm Tuesday 10 November 2009 •WALTHAMSTOW: Council traffic sign breaks law 4:57pm Friday 22 January 2010 ; There was also the story of the Council misleading the police for four years into illegally stopping, searching and possibly arresting people carrying alcohol in a zone in Leytonstone that had not been validly set up. The potential legal risk this incompetence exposed us to could have been astronomic, so one can place no confidence in the comments from the council's masked mystery spokesman today.[/p][/quote]Well said. SXH
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Mon 11 Feb 13

SXH says...

Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds,
As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008
Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008 SXH
  • Score: 0

10:40pm Mon 11 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

SXH wrote:
Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds,
As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008
Why shout?
[quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008[/p][/quote]Why shout? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

11:04pm Mon 11 Feb 13

SXH says...

Cornbeefur wrote:
SXH wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008
Why shout?
You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters.
[quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008[/p][/quote]Why shout?[/p][/quote]You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters. SXH
  • Score: 0

11:42am Tue 12 Feb 13

Dave mp says...

SXH wrote:
Cornbeefur wrote:
SXH wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008
Why shout?
You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters.
Or maybe Cornbeefur is housebound with health issues and can't get out? In which case spare a thought as it could happen to anyone of us?
[quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008[/p][/quote]Why shout?[/p][/quote]You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters.[/p][/quote]Or maybe Cornbeefur is housebound with health issues and can't get out? In which case spare a thought as it could happen to anyone of us? Dave mp
  • Score: 0

11:52am Tue 12 Feb 13

SXH says...

Dave mp wrote:
SXH wrote:
Cornbeefur wrote:
SXH wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008
Why shout?
You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters.
Or maybe Cornbeefur is housebound with health issues and can't get out? In which case spare a thought as it could happen to anyone of us?
That is no excuse for his insults to others.
[quote][p][bold]Dave mp[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Surely if they are only NOW applying to get signs authorised then everyone who has been issued in fines over these years have a legal case, and FULL refunds, As there have been reports in the Guardian going back to 2008[/p][/quote]Why shout?[/p][/quote]You must lead a very sad life spending all of your days going through stories, insulting posters.[/p][/quote]Or maybe Cornbeefur is housebound with health issues and can't get out? In which case spare a thought as it could happen to anyone of us?[/p][/quote]That is no excuse for his insults to others. SXH
  • Score: 0

2:53pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

"Waltham Forest Council says only 48 fines in suspended bays have been issued in the borough over the last 10 years, and insists they are all legally valid."

How lucky that files useful to the council have not been contaminated with asbestos! Unlike files showing the council in a bad light, which by chance have all been contaminated and have to be destroyed.
"Waltham Forest Council says only 48 fines in suspended bays have been issued in the borough over the last 10 years, and insists they are all legally valid." How lucky that files useful to the council have not been contaminated with asbestos! Unlike files showing the council in a bad light, which by chance have all been contaminated and have to be destroyed. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

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