Dorset Safety Camera Partnership – Chideock Speed Restriction

After some 50,000 drivers using the A35 at Chideock in Dorset had been penalised for exceeding the signed 30mph speed limit a lorry driver who had been convicted by the Magistrates appealed that judgment at the Dorchester Crown Court which allowed his appeal. The Dorset SCP had employed a Gatso camera to monitor traffic both eastbound and westbound through the village and captured the lorry just before midnight in October 2005 travelling westwards.

His valid challenge had been to the Highways Agency’s use of irregular speed restriction signs which neither complied with the clear specifications of the Traffic Signs Regulations nor had been authorised by the Secretary of State, this rendering them to be not traffic signs at all according to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 which rendered them illegally placed on the highway.

The imposition of this speed restriction was by way of a traffic order which removed any relevance of street lighting as an indication of speed limit. The Crown sought to argue the relevance of that because half of the village had street lighting. Provided that the traffic order was in force the speed limit was unenforceable in both directions.

The length of road subject to the speed restriction was defined in relation to a nearby junction. The court accepted that the road which defined the junction was clearly recognisable but it was wrongly named in the traffic order. By fatal mistake the colloquial name of the road was stated but that was not the actual name of the road that must be used for statutory purposes.

While the legislation does not accord with the Court’s finding – a traffic order remains in force until revoked, the Judge decided that the road naming error meant that the order had never come into being, thereby the relevance of the street lighting would not be revoked and the non-prescribed erroneous speed restriction signs were not relevant to a ‘restricted’ road. The result of that judgment meant that the street-lit section of the highway would be enforceable in respect of the speed limit.

Despite this unusual judgment it did result in all of the prosecutions of west-bound traffic having been invalid which meant that approximately half of the 50,000 Chideock speeding fines that had been paid fell to be refunded.

The Crown Prosecution Service and others sought to resist refunding of the fines but the Secretary of State, as highway authority for that road, disagreed thereby initiating the refunding process.

It is not understandable and it has never been challenged how the speeding tickets issued to eastbound drivers were deemed not to have been invalid bearing in mind the rules relating to the status of a traffic order, statute not discriminating for defective orders and some events surrounding the Court’s judgment at the time have been obscured from public knowledge.

However, refunding of every fine issued to westbound drivers was then put in place after every fine payer was contacted to inform them of the wrongful penalty.

Following acceptance that the fines had been wrong because the alleged offences had not been committed the situation was not merely one of refunding the monies paid. It was a situation of restitution in which every affected driver had to be restored to the position he/she had been in before the wrongful speeding ticket. This required removal of the penalty points added to the driving licence and it involved rectification of any consequential driving disqualifications that had occurred.

Motor insurance companies usually increase the renewal premium following receipt of a speeding ticket so all of the undeserved premium increases also had to be rectified.

Together with restitution administration costs of about £400,000 a total of just over £1.4M was refunded to approximately 24,000 drivers by mid 2011.

News story from the Daily Mail

Wiltshire & Swindon Safety Camera Partnership – Folly Bottom Speed Restriction

A temporary speed restriction was imposed in 2003 on the A303 road in Wiltshire at Folly Bottom where road works were in progress but the speed restriction signage was either missing in part or was otherwise defective and unenforceable.

A driver who contested her speeding ticket won her case at the Magistrates Court. After it was subsequently established that all speeding tickets issued at this location from September 2003 to January 2004 had had no lawful basis all of those who had paid fines were contacted to enable them to be refunded and have penalty points removed from their driving licences.

The necessity for full restitution as occurred in the Chideock incident will have been necessary but the Wiltshire Police have been unable to provide any information at all in this matter. As the Safety Partnership has been disbanded, not even the total of the fines refunded could be advised, this being estimated by the BBC at the time to have been in the order of £1M.

News story from The Guardian

Hertfordshire Safety Camera Partnership – Harpenden Speed Restriction

In the course of an audit of its traffic orders in early 2008 the County Council discovered that no traffic order had been made to authorise a 30mph speed restriction signed on the B653 road at Harpenden. Where there is not a system of street lighting which automatically authorises the imposition of a 30mph limit a traffic order is necessary.

This discovery established that all allegations of exceeding the speed limit in the twelve months to August 2005 had had no legal validity. In consequence, and to their credit, the Partnership wrote to all of the penalty payers advising them how to have their penalties refunded and points removed from their licences. The necessary action to ensure full restitution for those who were additionally affected is presumed to have taken place.

Approximately 3,200 drivers were due for refunding of their fines to a total of over £120,000.

News story from MyGarstonNews

Cheshire Constabulary – A5117 Speed Restriction

A temporary traffic order authorising a 40mph restriction on part of this 70mph road near Chester was not renewed on expiry during 2008 as it should have been, thereby rendering subsequent enforcement of this restriction unlawful. In consequence no speeding tickets should have been issued after April 8th.

On discovering the error the Partnership set about refunding wrongly-taken penalties and the cancellation of penalty points off the driving licences for the period April to December of that year.

The necessary action to ensure full restitution for those who were additionally affected is presumed to have taken place. The number of refunds and sum repaid is unknown.

News story from the Chester Chronicle

Bedfordshire & Luton Casualty Reduction Partnership – Dunstable Gateway

No details are currently available of the events of February-March 2009 at Beech Road on the A5 at Dunstable.

The Highways Agency has reported this as an event where wrongly imposed speeding fines were subsequently rectified by refunding of the fines and other remedial measures as occurred in the other instances reported above.

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