Traffic Penalty Tribunal decision on Mersey Gateway charges upheld on review
A review hearing confirmed that the Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s decision that five motorists were not liable to pay the toll or charge for using the new Mersey Gateway Bridge could be upheld, because Halton Borough Council, the charging authority, had not specified the sum of the charge in the Mersey Gateway Road Charging Order 2017. The Council have since remedied this in the 2018 Order, which came into operation on 19 April 2018.
Earlier this year, a Traffic Penalty Tribunal adjudicator found that Ms C, one of the five appellants, was not liable to pay the £2 charge for using the new Mersey Gateway Bridge. Halton applied for this finding to be reviewed, and subsequently all other appeals relating to the Mersey Gateway Bridge have been delayed pending the outcome of this decision.
On 8 May a different adjudicator, Edward Solomons, confirmed the Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s original decision to allow all five appeals. He found that the failure to specify the charges in the Mersey Gateway Road User Charging Scheme 2017 ‘amounts to a procedural error on the part of the Council’.
Of the signs informing motorists about the charges, Mr Solomons said “there may be room for improvement of the advanced signage but I do not consider that it falls below the required standard of adequacy”.
There were a number of other technical and legal points that found the Charging Scheme employed by Halton Borough Council is not enforceable under the Transport Act 2000.
Notes to Editors
- The £430 million Mersey Gateway Crossing opened in October 2017, charging £2 per crossing for cars, £6 for a van or small lorry and £8 for a larger lorry or bus.
- The bridge runs for 2.2 kilometres spanning the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal.
- Halton Borough Council is the charging authority and is responsible for imposing the charges for using the bridge and issuing penalty charge notices for failing to pay those charges.
- The Traffic Penalty Tribunal consider appeals against penalties issued for parking, the Dartford Crossing, Merseyside Gateway, bus lane and moving traffic contraventions in England (outside London) and Wales. The Chief Adjudicator is Caroline Sheppard OBE.
- As of February 2018, according to Halton Borough Council 242,690 penalty charges have been issued for failing to pay the charge.
- There have been over 3,010 penalty charge notices appealed to the adjudicators.
- Halton Borough Council have not contested 2,050 cases and a further 382 appeals have been heard and allowed by the adjudicators, resulting in the cancellation of the penalty charge.
- In total 547 appeals have been on hold pending the outcome of the review.
- Adjudicator Edward Solomons conducted the review hearing in Runcorn on 8 May 2018 after visiting the bridge and approach roads to see the signs.
- The Council was represented at the review hearing by Timothy Straker QC. None of the motorists participated in the hearing.
- The review hearing considered C vs Halton Borough Council and four other appeals. The additional appellants had either not seen the signs or were expecting to see a toll plaza so were unaware of the need to pay online or by phone.
The Chief Adjudicator is Caroline Sheppard OBE is available to comment on general issues around the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
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