A motorist has won a lengthy legal battle with a council over a £1 parking ticket – because the ‘pay and display’ sign was obscured by a pillar.
John Samuels, 56, parked outside a Tesco Metro store but was unaware there was a £1-an-hour charge because there was no visible signage. He was horrified when he returned an hour later to find a £50 fine slapped on his windscreen.
The freelance photographer scoured the car park and eventually spotted a sign stating: ‘This is a pay and display car park’ on a wall at ground level and obscured by a post.
He then sent photographic evidence of the hidden sign – and a cheque for the £1 charge – to Wiltshire Council and appealed against his fine. But the council rejected his appeal and Mr Samuels had to attend a Traffic Penalty Tribunal in Bristol – to which the council sent two officials and submitted a 74-page dossier.
Adjudicator Deborah Gibson cancelled the parking ticket and ruled that the signage was “inadequate”.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Samuels, who lives near Glastonbury in Somerset, said his battle had cost him far more than the £50 fine but he contested it as “a point of principle”.
He said: “What needs highlighting is the sheer cost of the campaign. Besides a mass of paperwork for the council defence, the council sent out someone to take their own photographs.
“All this for a missed £1 parking payment which I sent a cheque for on the same day in retrospect, which the council returned and insisted on fining me. I wanted to contest this out of principle. Because the entrance sign said it was Tesco I assumed it was a free car park. The blue sign behind the pillar was not obvious.”
Mr Samuels parked at Emery Gate Shopping Centre in Chippenham, Wiltshire , while he attended a brief meeting on April 18. He assumed it was free because the area was signposted as ‘Tesco Metro parking’.
The council refused to state how much they had paid for the case but said the main cost would be officer time.