Portfolio Holder for Transport upholds decision on parking tickets issued for Helston funeral

Last week at least 25 cars were issued parking tickets for parking on grass verges. The reason so many parked on the verges was because the car park was full due to high number of people attended a funeral of a well-known resident.

As one of the local Cornwall Councillors for Helston, I was contacted by residents from both Porthleven and Helston upset and angry at being issued a ticket.  By parking on the verges and out-of-the-way, the owners thought they would be ok. However, that proved to be far from the case.

After all, most people understand you cannot park on single or double yellow lines, but how many actually know the Traffic Regulation Order – makes yellow lines legal – includes the verges and pathways that run along side of the road? I did not, and I bet everyone else who parked on this date didn’t either.

Since being contacted, I have been trying to get the Council (as have other Councillors both near and far) to take a more understanding view on the situation; take into consideration why people parked on the verges; and as an act of good faith, cancel the tickets. This would have gone a long way in turning this public relations disaster into something more positive.

Sadly, this has not happened, as the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Cllr Bert Biscoe – which parking enforcement sits in – has released the following statement on this issue.

Dear Colleague

I have received a number of representations regarding the issue of Penalty Charge Notices at Helston last week. A number of vehicles were parked in contravention of clearly visible and legally enforceable yellow lines, on the footway, and on the verge. A Council Civil Parking Enforcement Officer witnessed the parking and adjudged that the vehicles on the footway posed a risk to pedestrians, requiring them to pass by stepping into the road. The ‘No Parking at any Time’ Traffic Regulation Order applies as much to the verge as it does to the footway and the verge. The vehicles on the verge would have affected the sightlines of approaching vehicles and therefore, in the estimation of the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer, posed a safety risk to road users.

Having been made aware that a funeral was taking place and as so many vehicles were involved the Enforcement Officer decided to report to his Manager before acting. He reported the nature of the infringements and his assessment of the risks and provided photographs (see attached). His manager agreed that Penalty Charge Notices should be issued. Such notices can, as you know, be appealed by the recipients. The duty of the Enforcement Team is to protect the public by enforcing the regulation through issuance of a penalty notice.

The Parking Manager judged, from the situation report and risks reported to him, that it was the correct course to issue notices and he instructed the Enforcement Officer to proceed. He did so in the knowledge that no enquiries had been received by the Council in advance of the funeral in the nearby chapel. If an enquiry had been received in advance then the Parking Manager would have advised about car parks in the vicinity which would have been able to accommodate the expected vehicles.

I acknowledge that it is very often difficult to estimate in advance the attendance at a funeral, but the roadside in the immediate vicinity of the chapel is subject to a Regulation Order, and, when infringements occur, perpetrators are consistently issued with notices – it is not a safe location to leave unattended vehicles, which put other road users, including pedestrians, at risk. Funerals are organised events and both the Parking Section and the Highways Authority are available to provide appropriate advice in advance to assist organisers to run things safely and carefully.

There has been a consequent expression of concern by various people, including many members, that the action sanctioned by the Parking Manager was disproportionate and unwise. Some have asked for the refund or cancellation of fines due to the exceptional circumstances.

I fully support the decision made by the Parking Manager and I fully acknowledge that the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer gave a factual report and provided his manager with a reasonable assessment of risk. I do not consider that the Penalty Notices should be withdrawn or cancelled, and I would request that you consider the extent to which the authority and reputation of the Civil Enforcement team would be undermined and weakened if such a course was pursued.

Along with everybody else who has commented upon this incident, I feel great sympathy for the relatives of the person whose funeral was taking place in the chapel whilst the Notices were being issued, who now find that the immediate aftermath of what is an emotionally charged and stressful situation is one of political and rhetorical turmoil rather than a period of mourning, remembrance and comforting. That many who chose to attend and support them at the funeral and to pay respects to the deceased should have also chosen to infringe a regulation made to reduce risk and improve safety on a busy road is not their fault, and begs the question whether it would be more appropriate to quietly accept the penalties and, if they choose to appeal, to follow the process without causing unnecessary distress to grieving relatives and close friends.

I am writing to let you know that I fully support both the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer, his colleagues (many of whom have been subjected to comments for the past few days), and the managers in the judgements made and decisions taken in this case. I will not sanction rescission or refund of penalties. Together will all the staff and Cabinet Members of the Council, I am sorry that the family of the deceased has had the aftermath of the funeral of a much loved and respected family member disrupted by a controversy caused by the correct issue of Penalty Charge Notices.

I am sure that lessons will be learned as a result but I would ask that you support the staff who work for you in the public interest, and the family in mourning, by advising that appeals can be made if perpetrators feel thus inclined, and that their process be allowed to take its course without further undue comment.

With best wishes

Cllr Bert Biscoe

Cabinet Member for Transport

 

I am bitterly disappointed on the way this has ended. I really believed a solution could have been found. However, with this statement, the only way now for the tickets to be cancelled is via the appeals process and if that appeal is not upheld, then the traffic and transport ombudsman.

Not a good day for the Council’s reputation.

16 comments

  • “Funerals are organised events” … “That many who chose to attend and support them at the funeral and to pay respects to the deceased should have also chosen to infringe a regulation made to reduce risk and improve safety on a busy road …”

    The degree of insensitivity in the expression of such comments is almost incredible.

    For those attending a funeral, distressed by the loss of a family member or friend, a considertion of parking regulations is hardly high on the list of priorities.

    In the UK, the introduction of a motivation of profit and a dependence on income generation from what should be a service regulating the free flow of traffic, and the provision of parking for residents, has turned it into a monstrous, insatiable industry: it is time that a radical, national review of parking charge policy was made, and a fairer approach required from local authorities.

    In the meanwhile, I suggest those with tickets take advice – perhaps from fellow Barnet blogger ‘Mr Mustard’, who specialises in overturning unfair parking penalties.

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    My question with the stance of the Council, is the fact that they claim tickets were issued, not only to uphold the actual job of a parking enforcement officer, but more so because of safety reasons to pedestrians and other road users, but their stance on these issues is not consistent. Flora day sees people park in exactly the same positions as some of those vehicles were, and no tickets were issued to vehicles in those positions on Flora day. Nor were they on the Late afternoon and evening of the Christmas lights switch on. This issue personally did not affect me, however, I do believe Cornwall Council need to be seen to be consistent.

  • Mr rowe

    Can’t expect anything more from one of the most disfunctional county councils in the country

  • Gary

    Andy, does this mean that because the double yellow lines run in front of my garage / parking space that its illegal for me to park on the drive because the lines pass in front ? (serious question based on what he is saying)

  • Gilly Zella Martin

    Incidentally, did Councillor Bert Biscoe really write all that statement himself?

    Having received a couple of emails from him in the past, I would have said that statement was written by a completely different person!

  • Stephan

    What is Cornwall County Council but a group of private companies run by paid party politicians…..time for change me thinks…..it no longer serves the residents, isn’t run by the residents and certainly not in the residents of Cornwall’s best interest… case in mention….no respect for the mourners of obviously a very well loved and cared for man….gee the roads are a mess, pot holes every where, roadworks for major developments all summer …..and if the car park was full, who really wants to make money from those who had to park nearby….not me…..not the residents of Cornwall…..just the conglomeration of private firms that now is Cornwall County Council…..

  • Stuart Roden

    I just wonder how the civil enforcement team would be “weakened and undermined” if the tickets were withdrawn. In my view it would enhance and strengthen the team and the council by showing a little common sense and humanity.

  • Lack of humanity. Job’s worthy. I hope voters remember this response when the time comes.

  • Andrew Wallis

    You make a good point, Gary. I will find out.

  • Sarah Gould

    I am absolutely disgusted that this is the stance that has been taken. I watched the traffic warden place tickets on the cars parked on verges and was horrified. I cannot imagine for one second that the local residents of Helston would begrudge the mourners of the funeral parking where they could to pay their last respect I am one and was only in support of the mourners and appreciated that for one hour of that day if that, that is what they needed to do. There was no where else for them to park and they were not blocking pavements, driveways etc.. Therefore limiting the amount of disruption or inconvenience to others. If the mourners had contacted the council officers beforehand in order to seek guidance on where to park if there was not adequate parking, I would be interested to know what the solution would have been? Surely the bigger picture needs to be taken into consideration in here……people went to these lengths to show respect to a friend/ love one who had passed. Where is people’s empathy? I cannot believe there are people like this making decisions about the town I live in; you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • Michaela Marchand

    “improve safety on a busy road”

    Cllr Bert Biscoe is speaking from a position of ignorance I’d say. The grass verges on which some of the cars were parked is not a busy main road but a residential side road. Perhaps Cllr Biscoe needs to get himself down to Helston and look for himself instead of sitting in his ivory tower writing a load of claptrap.

  • JMP

    Where did Cllr.Biscoe get that statement from, an internet forum, ‘let me write a statement for you that makes you look stupid’

    I think he’s clearly clueless about the geographical layout of Helston, parking on those grass verges caused no danger to pedestrians or other road users. I don’t think discretion was factored into the situation at all, there was no more safety issue than on Flora Day. I never see a parking enforcement officer walking that route normally at all.
    Instead of self righteously issuing his statement out of a Christmas Cracker why doesn’t he do something about the closed off long stay car park. Are the council going to close off every car park that receives a visit from travellers.

  • Jan Mills

    What a ****head

  • Terry Reed

    The responsible Councillor and the Council are completely without compassion. They should take into account the overwhelming public opinion that these fines should be cancelled – especially as this same “public” are Council Tax payers and that Councillors should be listening to the people they are supposed to be representing and carrying out their wishes!

  • Roger Benney

    I believe that this enforces my thought that we have the most dysfunctional and inconsiderate council I have ever had the misfortune to have seen in Cornwall. Biscoe would have been better keeping his mouth shut instead of trying to look important by putting his drivel on paper, so proving it. Time to resign I think and take the rest with you. If you don’t, I urge the electorate to bear his actions in mind at the next election.

  • Pingback: 18 out of 25 parking tickets issued in Helston during a funeral are cancelled | Cllr Andrew Wallis

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