One car which broke the rules at Chatham's bus station - and the camera which dishes out fines
Drivers have won 93% of appeals against fines at Chatham’s bus station after its warning signs were deemed “inadequate”.
Yet Medway Council has continued dishing out the £60 fines to more than 4,000 motorists – pocketing thousands of pounds.
Drivers have been banned from entering the terminal for safety reasons since it opened in 2010, and more than 30,000 have been fined for breaking the rules.
Many complained warning signs were not clear enough, and pensioner Patricia New secured a victory in December when an independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) declared just that. It followed similar rulings from at least four other TPTs.
Yet Medway Council still insisted the signs were legal, saying different tribunals had produced different rulings.
A statement even said it was “disingenous” to suggest the round-the-clock enforcement camera should be switched off.
But we can reveal that in the three months after Mrs New’s win, officers cancelled almost every fine – at least, for drivers who bothered to appeal.
More than 4,000 drivers did not appeal and many of them have now paid up.
If paid in full the fines would total about £250,000.
The figures were revealed by parking campaigners
The figures were obtained by the NoToMob parking campaign group, which has filed a formal complaint with the district auditor.
It says the council’s 2012/13 accounts must be declared invalid because the bus station fines were “illegally-derived income”.
Group member Steve Baker said: “The distasteful aspect of all of this is that Medway Council knew full well that if they allowed any more appeals to go to the TPT they would get their arses kicked.
“They knew the signs and lines were unenforceable in law, and yet despite this they continued to enforce.”
In the 2012/13 financial year overall, 42% of drivers who appealed won their cases. Some may have been cars which had permission to enter the bus station but were fined by accident.
“They knew the signs and lines were unenforceable, yet they continued to enforce.”
More than 30 drivers who lost took their cases to a TPT, where almost three-quarters (73%) either won or had their cases dropped by the council.
The council improved the layout of the bus station in March to make things clearer for drivers.
There is no published data to show how many fines, if any, were cancelled after the improvements.
A Medway Council spokesman said the cancellations between December and March were because new, temporary road markings were in place.
He said: "Due to these changes, as a gesture of goodwill, a decision was made to give more drivers the benefit of the doubt, when accepting appeals with mitigating circumstances at that time.
"The signs and markings for the bus station have always met the legal standards required, and since March 2013 the road markings have been altered to make them even clearer for motorists and are in fact above what is required in law.
"It is worth remembering that this is a bus station used by 60,000 passengers a week."
He added: "If anyone receives a fine and they believe they have grounds for appeal we would always advise them to do so. Details of how to are on the ticket."