THE legality of hundreds of fines issued to drivers double parking across the Capital has been thrown into doubt after a ruling that the council does not have the grounds to hand out the tickets.
The local authority confirmed that ticket inspectors had been ordered to charge drivers who had double parked from February this year.
Fines are being dished out on the basis of vehicles not being “parked correctly within the markings of the bay or space”, and the council is pushing for the Scottish Government to decriminalise double parking, removing the responsibility of enforcement from police and allowing parking attendants to ticket offenders.
Sixteen appeals have been lodged since February against fines issued by the council.
One of those challengers, Nigel Foster, of Mountcastle, has now had his appeal against a £30 ticket upheld, giving the green light for hundreds of challenges from residents.
Mr Foster got the ticket at 11.50am on March 15 after double parking his van beside a registered bay filled with building equipment on Blantyre Terrace, Morningside. He went to the independent Scottish Parking Appeals Service (SPAS), believing the council had no grounds to issue a fine.
A judgement handed down by the parking adjudicator backed his position last month that could now set a precedent. In his statement, Mr Kennedy ruled: “It is clear from the council’s photographs and from all of the rest of the evidence the appellant’s vehicle was, in fact, double parked beside a row of permit spaces. If that is so, then his car cannot have been parked in a permit space and so he cannot be guilty of the contravention stipulated in the penalty charge.”
No figures were available for the number of fines issued to double-parked drivers, but a total of 196,488 parking tickets were issued during 2011-12. Of those 43,706 were contested, with almost half scrapped.
Regulations allow police to impound double-parked vehicles that cause an obstruction, but do not extend to councils.
Mr Foster accused the council of revenue raising, saying: “They clearly were issuing parking tickets against various people which actually weren’t based on any law at all. That’s the bottom line.
“They don’t have any legal guidance from the government relating to this.
“They’re doing this off their own bat and trying to stretch existing laws to mean what they want.”
A council spokeswoman said the local authority was seeking clarification from SPAS on Mr Foster’s case and would not comment further.
She said: “The consequences of double parking can be very serious. Not only can it cause disruption and inconvenience to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, but it can also obstruct emergency vehicle access. It is important the council actively discourages double parking.”
Legality of double parking
Q What is double parking?
A Double parking is the practice of parking a vehicle to the side of one or more vehicles already parked next to the kerb.
Q Is it illegal in Edinburgh?
A Yes. A vehicle double parked causing obstruction would be in contravention of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, Regulation 103.
Q If I am only double parked for less than five minutes, is it OK?
A No. Police can issue spot fines of £30.
Q Can Edinburgh City Council issue fines for double parking?
A This issue is under consultation with the Scottish Parking Appeals Service.