MOTORISTS unwittingly seeking to park unlawfully in Coventry city centre’s restricted parking zone are being confused, snared and unfairly fined because of double yellow lines in some streets that should not be there, says a road safety campaigner.
And the evidence shows the council is breaking its own parking rules, he adds.
Coventry City Council has issued more than 60,000 Penalty Charge Notices relating to the zone, which is now being examined by the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal after some motorists appealed the fines.
The council website’s advice to drivers about the zone introduced in 2011 explicitly states: “All yellow lines have been removed, but it is illegal to park anywhere in the city centre other than in clearly defined bays.
“The zone extends across the whole city centre. You can only park in marked, metered bays.”
Yet campaigner Richard Heneghan – who tweets using Twitter handle @KovBlog (Cov Road Safety) – has now published photographs of double yellow lines in the city centre, inside the ring road.
Coventry City Council has for days declined to respond to our questions about Mr Heneghan’s concerns.
It follows Conservative councillor Tim Sawdon last month raising concerns about a perceived inadequate number of signs in the zone which notify motorists about the restrictions, a complaint dismissed by council officials.
He claimed not all 60,000 fines could have been issued to irresponsible motorists deliberately infringing the rules, adding the high number demonstrated the scheme was not working fairly.
Mr Heneghan told us: “You will note that both the Coventry council website and the most recently published annual parking report falsely claim that ALL double yellow lines were removed from the city centre.
“All of the photos attached are within the city centre restricted parking zone – you will even note the zone entry signs in some of the photos.
“The result is the motorists are presented with gateway entry signs to the zone, then pass considerable distances of roads within the zone that are covered in double yellow lines and then simply park when they find a section of the road with no double yellows.
“Add this to the fact there are also considerable stretches of roads within the zone with absolutely no road-side signage pertaining to the restrictions, we get to understand why there have been in excess of 60k PCNs.
“The zone is fatally flawed.”
He has photographed double yellow lines at Bishop Street, Tower Street, Lamb Street, the Burges and Silver Street.
The entire legality of the scheme is now being questioned by campaigners, and the tribunal’s review has been awaited for several weeks.
Coun Sawdon also claimed there was a lack of evidence about the zone’s authorisation with the government’s Department for Transport when it was set up – with documents missing.
He also claims there was no clear reason why the council had satisfied the “exceptional circumstances” required to introduce such a scheme.
He argues all motorists recognised double yellow lines as a clearer system of notifying them where the cannot park.
It comes amid ongoing controversy, also covered by the Observer, about fines for entering the city’s bus gates. The independent tribunal has upheld numerous appeals and concluded there was “inadequate” signage.
UPDATE: The council finally responded after days, shortly after we published this story, with the following statement…
“The position regarding our Restricted Parking Zone has not changed – it was put together with the Department for Transport and remains fully approved by them.
“The zone indicates that motorists must park in the bays provided – this has been the case since the zone was first introduced.
“The double yellow lines were all removed within the zone. In some areas where black paint has worn out to reveal yellow lines these will be blacked out as part of ongoing maintenance work.”
However, despite the council’s claims, the photographs including those published here show long stretches of clearly marked double yellow lines, and no evidence of any worn black paint.
Mr Heneghan has responded by tweeting pictures of the Burges in recent years adding: “The double yellows have NEVER been painted over. This applies to the other roads featured in the article also.”