The London Borough of Havering has been illegally issuing fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for parking offences outside schools for the past two years, a parking campaigner claims.
In November 2016 the council passed Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) making parking a criminal offence outside four primary schools.
In response to a Freedom of Information request from parking campaigner Edward Williams, the council revealed that it has issued 678 FPNs for vehicles that “have breached the offence of failing to comply with a Public Space Protection Order”. The payment of FPNs has so far raised £22,655, the council stated.
Williams says that the council is failing to comply with the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions General Regulations 2007. He refers to the section headed ‘Criminal proceedings for parking contraventions in civil enforcement areas’, which states: “No criminal proceedings may be instituted and no fixed penalty notice may be served in respect of any parking contravention occurring in a civil enforcement area, except a pedestrian crossing contravention.”
Havering declined to comment when asked to respond to Williams’ allegation that its issuing of FPNs for parking offences outside schools was unlawful. But it did confirm that, so far, no motorists have been taken to magistrates court for non-payment of an FPN.
The council said that any motorist who fails to pay an FPN faces the risk of a magistrates’ court summons, which could result in a conviction and a criminal record.
Parking Review asked the Department for Transport if it is illegal to issue FPNs for parking contraventions outside schools. A spokeswoman said: “This is a legal matter, and is for the local authority to respond to. The department is unable to advise on legal interpretation, and only the courts can determine this.”
A letter to parents from Havering states: “Any vehicle seen stopping to drop off or pick up pupils during the school run within the designated zone will be monitored by cameras and fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of £100 will be issued. There will be no prosecution if paid within 14 days of being issued. People who do not pay FPNs, and those who offend persistently (more than three times), may be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.”
Edward Williams told Parking Review: “Havering, like all local authorities operating civil parking enforcement under the terms of the Traffic Management Act 2004, is barred by law from issuing a fixed penalty notice for parking outside a school entrance marked with yellow zigzag lines. This is clearly set out in reg. 7(1) of The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007.
“I am not surprised the council hasn't tried to prosecute anyone in a magistrates court for failing to pay an FPN as any competent road traffic lawyer would have the case dismissed before it got to trial, leaving the council with legal costs to pay.
“If a local authority has a problem with parking on school entrances, a civil enforcement officer can issue a penalty charge notice in the usual manner. Havering seems to think it can issue a PCN and a FPN for the same parking contravention.
“The Home Office has been made aware of this abuse of Public Space Protection Orders for some time but has not updated its statutory guidance. Havering needs to take urgent legal advice with a view to refunding the £22,000 plus they have collected from motorists.”
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