Nearly two-thirds of bus gate penalty appeals succeed in Sheffield

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MOTORISTS who challenged fines for driving through Sheffield’s bus gates were successful in almost two thirds of cases, new statistics show.

Of 18,882 penalties issued in 2009/10, 3,621 were appealed - and 2,245 being quashed.

The total number of bus gate fines appealed, cancelled or written off was 2,648.

In Sheffield less than a third of parking fines are quashed on appeal - one of the country’s lowest rates.

It compares with some parts of the country where up to almost 90 per cent of people who challenged parking fines were successful.

Statistics for 2009/10 showed that of the 56,318 fines issues by Sheffield Council parking wardens, 4,810 were cancelled on appeal, 641 were written off and 478 cancelled for “other reasons”.

The total proportion of fines which were not collected by the council stood at 10.5 per cent, while 30.4 per cent of the 15,811 appeals made against fines were successful.

One of the places in the country with the highest amount of successful appeals was Westminster, where 87 per cent of challenges were successful.

Consumer magazine Which? published the figures and chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said the success rate for appeals shows drivers should make challenges.

He said: “If you think you’ve been unfairly ticketed, make sure you appeal.”

Coun Ian Auckland, Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport, said: “We will always consider letters of appeal carefully on the evidence given.

There is no broad brush for this and we try to weigh up each case individually on its merits.

The thing that is key to the appeals process is the need for common sense.

“We are always seeking to improve the service we give and we are currently looking at how we can work better as part of a review of Parking Services. We want to make sure that people are aware of the appeals process and how to engage with it. The outcome of the review will be reported by the end of the year.

“The vast majority of the cases that we cancel were originally correctly issued. The cases which are cancelled are mostly because we have accepted the justified or compelling circumstances which people put forward.”

The council had to cancel many bus gate fines because there were insufficient warning at sites including the Wicker and Hillsborough Corner - but changes have now been made to road layouts and signs.

Barnsley Council does not yet have statistics for appeals against parking tickets in 2009/10. In 2008/9, there were 10,795 tickets issued. Some 2,992 were appealed - with success in 1,784, or 60 per cent, of cases.