Revealed: Yorkshire’s parking fine postcode lottery

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A wide disparity in success rates for overturning parking fines in parts of Yorkshire has been branded an “absolute disgrace” by campaigners calling for clearer guidance.

A nationwide investigation earlier this week revealed the postcodes for the region most likely to accede challenges for penalty charge notices (PCNs).

But now, as a series of Freedom of Information requests from The Yorkshire Post uncovers an even starker postcode lottery, national campaigners say the new figures paint a picture of drivers being treated with disdain.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” said Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com. “Nationally, 56 per cent of people who go on to an independent appeal win. That tells us there are problems where individual councils are wrongly ticketing. It’s clearly a problem, and there’s been a problem for many years with councils across the country treating motorists with disdain.”

The investigation found that of the authorities which responded, there were 356,513 penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued in Yorkshire last year. A total of 92,038 of these were challenged by irate drivers, with almost half (48 per cent) successfully overturned.

But there is a wide disparity in success rates for overturning fines on appeal, with almost three quarters rescinded on appeal in some areas, compared to a quarter in others. The highest success rate was in Wakefield, where 72 per cent of appeals were successful, while in Sheffield that figure was just 26 per cent.

Campaigners say this prompts concern over the signage in some areas, and the readiness of some authorities to issue PCNs.

“The figures actually ask more questions than they answer,” a spokesman for the Automobile Association said. “A local authority with a low appeal success rate may actually be dishing out fewer tickets that are better targeted. A council upholding a high percentage of appeals may be throwing fines around like confetti and relying on drivers to appeal wrongful PCNs – instead of issuing them correctly in the first place.

“With just over a third of fines refunded in Hambleton, this could suggest that their enforcement officers are following guidelines that are focus more on deterrence. It could also suggest that their signage and restrictions are clearer to road users.”

Mr Anker said motorists should always be aware of their options when it comes to challenging a fine: “The statistics speak for themselves. That sends a message to anybody even thinking they have been unfairly ticketed – don’t take no for an answer.”

Hambleton Council said it assessed challenges on a fair and consistent basis, while Wakefield Council said the figure related to PCNs challenged and subsequently withdrawn in 2016.

Neil Rodgers, service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “We have fundamentally changed the way we work now and the council no longer operates the policies and procedures in place during that period. Since taking over the powers of Civil Parking Enforcement from the police we are confident that the percentage of notices that could be withdrawn will reduce significantly.”

Dean Richardson, Harrogate Borough Council’s head of safer communities said: “The council considers every appeal against a PCN on its own merits.

“The total cancellation rate asked for includes instances where a PCN has been issued correctly but the driver has failed to display their permit, disabled badge or pay and display ticket. Only a small proportion of cancellations were due to an error being made in the issuing of the PCN. The vast majority were the result of the motorist offering mitigating circumstances.”