Error in traffic ban fine leads to successful appeal

CONFUSION: The controversial signage and Mr Perry’s PCN

MOTORISTS contravening a bus lane in Tunbridge Wells could see their fines overturned as incorrect wording on the letters has meant the fines are legally defective.

From the traffic ban on Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has issued more than 25,373 penalties since enforcement commenced on March 20, hitting each driver with a £70 fine that is discounted to £35 if paid within a fortnight.

One of those motorists caught using the bus lane was journalist Keith Perry from Sidcup, Kent, who successfully challenged his PCN after noticing an error in his letter.

Mr Perry recounted: “I was visiting Tunbridge Wells for a coronation event with my wife and was following the sat nav when it directed us through the town centre and the bus lane. It wasn’t until we had driven through it and seen the camera sign that I realised it was too late.”

Mr Perry received his PCN on May 11 2023. It said: “A reduced Penalty Charge (discounted to 50 per cent) of £35.00 is payable if it is received within 14 days of the date this notice was served.”

Mr Perry took the fine to motor legal expert Ivan Murray-Smith, who challenges council fines on behalf of drivers. He said that motorists would not have to pay “a penny” due to a regulation error.

He said: “The wording on the PCNs is incorrect and people receiving them won’t have to pay a penny.

“The PCN only gives a 14-day discount period, but the law changed to 21 days in May last year. “That is a procedural impropriety that will win [appeal] on its own.”

According to regulations that changed on May 31 2022, any PCN using CCTV enforcement, like the bus lane, must be given a 21-day notice period, not 14 days.

Mr Perry highlighted this discrepancy in his appeal, which was successful, and his fine was voided. TWBC did not specify the reason this happened.

1,148 successful appeals were made out of 13,168 fines between March 20 and May 7.

Mr Murray-Smith said: “Tunbridge Wells is just one of many councils issuing dodgy paperwork, together with Bristol, Lambeth, the City of London and many others.

“The key takeaway really is that, regardless of the rights and wrongs of what the Council says, you should get legal advice, which is available for free from”

Since Mr Perry’s case, the wording on the letters has been changed to include the 21-day-period instead of the incorrect 14 days, but motorists should still check their letters if they were issued before July 10.

TWBC has been approached for comment.

Also not in compliance with the regulations is the length of time of warning notices issued at the beginning of the scheme. 18,000 warning notices were issued to drivers contravening the bus lane on their first offence, from February 20 to April 1.

However, this 40-day period does not abide by recent traffic laws. According to the Traffic Management Act 2004, local authorities, in this case TWBC, must issue warning notices for a period of six months to help motorists “understand the seriousness of moving traffic contraventions”.

In response, TWBC said: “The PR2 bus gate/lane was in place in 2019/20, before the new arrangements for bus lanes and moving traffic restrictions that commenced in 2022.”

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