Parking enforcers could be “bombarded” by claims for thousands of pounds worth of refunds for tickets issued near some of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, a legal expert has warned.
A tree obscuring the controlled parking zone (CPZ) entry sign leading to Holyrood Palace, Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh could have rendered every ticket issued on a yellow line since at least May 2014 invalid, it was claimed.
Edinburgh Council took £5.4 million in parking charges in 2012/13 in its 20 CPZs - an average of £22,500 per zone per month.
One driver who was issued a ticket last June finally won a six-month battle to get it repealed last week - in a decision which could see the council “bombarded” by further claims for refunds.
Google Streetview images show the CPZ entry sign on Abbeyhill was almost completely obscured by a tree in May 2014 - and it has remained obscured for the rest of the year.
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In a last-ditch attempt to uphold the ticket, Edinburgh Council sent the driver an undated photo of another entry sign on Abbey Mount a few metres up the road.
But Streetview also reveals that this sign has been missing for at least eight months.
The Highway Code states that times of operation of yellow lines must be shown on nearby time plates or CPZ entry signs.
Simon Collins, a partner at Edinburgh-based Capital Defence Lawyers, which specialises in road traffic offences, said: “It could potentially affect a large number of tickets for any driver who entered via that road where the sign was obscured.
“Every person who has ever had a parking ticket could phone up and say ‘I entered that way’, and the council could be bombarded.
“I think there would probably be a degree of onus on the person challenging it to show the way they entered.
“But I would say it could certainly affect a number of tickets in that area if it was likely that that was the way that you came into the CPZ.
“If there is an obscured sign at the entrance to the CPZ it could potentially affect anyone who came in through that entrance, so it could affect a number of people.
“When you are in a CPZ the regulations, dates and times of the parking are shown locally.
“But this would be like going into a speed camera controlled area and not knowing that you were in one, or a 30mph speed limit but not seeing the sign, so you are oblivious.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener at Edinburgh Council, said: “Parking restrictions are clearly displayed in streets on pay and display and permit holder signs as well as on the entry signs to controlled parking zones, and we strive to ensure that all parking restriction signs are clearly visible to drivers at all times.
“We’d encourage people to report any obscured or damaged signs/road markings to assist us in ensuring signage is as clear as possible for drivers.”
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