Policy for considering Penalty Charge Notices - Challenges and Representations
Parking Controls in Chichester District are essential to keep traffic moving and provide access for residents and visitors. Chichester District Council's policy for Civil Parking Enforcement (West Sussex Parking Policy) aims to ensure that it provides a system that is fair to the motorist but effective in enforcing parking regulations.
This Policy for considering Challenges and Representations provides an overview of the process in place to assist with any appeals made against Penalty Charge Notice's (PCN's).
In this Policy, references to correspondence will include, appeals, Challenges, Representations and other written communications which may have been completed on behalf of the motorist.
Staff employed by Chichester District Council (the council) to undertake enforcement or to consider and respond to Challenges and Representations will be provided with the skills and training required to undertake their roles effectively. Along with formal training, supervision of staff will be undertaken when first appointed to the role and then on an ad hoc basis. A monitoring process will also be carried out to ensure the quality of responses.
Motorists will be dealt with professionally and within any required timeframe and annual appraisals of all staff will ensure that any training or other issues are considered, along with regular review of team performance by management.
All correspondence should be in writing so that the council has record of the query but also to support a decision to cancel a PCN and for further evidence in the case of Representations or Adjudications. In the case where the motorist is unable to complete a Challenge, arrangements can be made by contacting the council and informing the member of staff.
Independent legal advice may be sought from time to time from the Legal Services team where this is felt appropriate.
The service will report on performance through the annual parking report which will be published each year on the authority's website along with the PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London) website. This will include the percentage of PCNs which have been cancelled.
The Traffic Management Act 2004 allows councils discretion in how correspondence is dealt with and decisions relating to PCN's can only be made by trained members of the Parking Services Team. The council has a legal duty to consider correspondence and the proof of whether this has happened or not lies in the quality of the response.
Any guidelines will only provide a framework within which consistent decision making is undertaken, although each case must be considered on its own circumstances.
- Notice Processing staff are encouraged to clarify with others where they are uncertain about the decision relating to a particular case.
- Commonly, different Notice Processing Officers will review a case during the different stages of appeal.
The council's discretion
An authority has a discretionary power to cancel a PCN at any time throughout the process, even when an undoubted contravention has occurred if the authority deems it appropriate in the circumstances of the case. The authority has a duty to act fairly and proportionately and is encouraged to exercise discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest.
- Discretion will be objective and without regard to any financial interest and each case will be judged on its own merits.
- The authority will depart from policies if it is considered that the particular circumstances of the case warrant it.
Errors in a PCN
All Notice Processing Officers check that a PCN has been issued correctly prior to reviewing correspondence. If it is found that the PCN itself contains an error or defect, or if a specified procedural error has taken place, the PCN will be cancelled in line with the regulations and the motorist will be informed, where possible.
Some cases will not fall precisely within a specific category / circumstance or will have mitigating factors that will need to be taken into account. Where such cases arise they will be discussed with another Notice Processing Officer or line manager in order that an agreed decision can be reached based on the evidence which is available.
- Mitigating circumstances may often be unexpected / unforeseen and will often be unavoidable too.
- The Notice Processor will consider the circumstances described by the motorist carefully whilst also reviewing the contravention and evidence gathered by the Civil Enforcement Officer.
- Notice Processing staff are able to ask for evidence to substantiate a Challenge or Representation if compelling information has been provided by the motorist.
- The council does not have to accept evidence if it not felt to be relevant or sufficient to support the reasons for appeal.
The council will always:
- Work in line with the regulations (Traffic Management Act 2004, The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007, The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 inclusive of PCN's issued prior to 30 May 2022), (Traffic Management Act 2004, The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2022, The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2022 any PCN's issued from the 31 May 2022).
- Check the PCN to ensure it has been issued and processed correctly.
- Consider all first Challenges and Representations from the owner of the vehicle in accordance to the regulations.
- Read and understand the correspondence and seek further clarification if the information is unclear.
- Evaluate any evidence which is available.
- Decide whether further investigations are required (checking previous PCN's, maps, machine faults, permit records etc).
- Provide an explanation as to why the PCN was issued to prevent further PCN's being issued. (Information may later be referred to should a customer receive further PCN's which are issued in similar circumstances.)
- Provide clear timescales within which action must be taken before the PCN progresses.
- Tell you what the next step is and describe how the charge will increase
The council won't:
- Seek to obtain records from third parties on a motorists behalf, such as Doctors Surgeries, Hospitals, the DVLA (Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency), or Insurance Companies.
- Share data with anyone outside of those who are permitted.
- Tolerate abusive behaviour or language.
- Respond to unreasonably persistent correspondence which hinders the consideration of a case, affects resources or where a full response has already been served and the matters raised have been responded to.
There are three stages to the appeals process and the third enables an appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal to be submitted. Upon deciding the case, the Adjudicators decision will be fed back to Notice Processing staff and discussed at team meetings to ensure that Challenges are being dealt with correctly and to make improvements to the service.
The council takes its responsibilities very seriously and should we have failed to provide a service in the correct manner, a motorist can follow the council's Complaint Procedure. However, complaints regarding the outcome of a Challenge or Representation will not be accepted and motorists should follow the prescribed Parking Penalty Enforcement Process by appealing to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal if dissatisfied with the council's decisions.