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Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 11:51 UK
Neil Herron loses Sunderland parking battle at High Court
Controlled zone sign
CPZ signs - at each end of a zone - are said to reduce street clutter

If you want to understand the significance of Neil Herron's defeat in the High Court you need to understand Controlled Parking Zones.

Don't all run away at once - you might be grateful next time you park in one.

Here is BBC Wear's handy guide to what they are, how they work and whether it's worth arguing about getting a ticket.

It all revolves around technicalities - technicalities that the judge called "trivialities".

Neil Herron, a former market trader from Sunderland, first came to public attention late in 2000 over the issue of metric measurement.

He helped his friend, Steven Thoburn, challenge a prosecution for selling fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces, the offence being that he didn't have the metric scales required.

Technicalities or trivialities?

Since 2000 Mr Herron has transformed into something of a parking campaigner.

His current challenge - to Controlled Parking Zones, or CPZs - went all the way to the High Court.

Again, the issue revolved around a technicality.

An important technicality, said Mr Herron, since the result of infringement is "penal" and, he claimed, councils rely on the confusion to make money out of parking fines.

His over-strict interpretation of the rules, said Sunderland City Council and the Department of Transport, flew in the face of common sense.

On May 25 2010 Neil Herron lost his case and was told by the judge that it was "entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit".

Neil Herron
Neil Herron took his case to the High Court in London

What Mr Herron claimed:

  • The zone in Sunderland city centre is so large that it confuses drivers with its signs and is unlawful
  • The council relies on this confusion to make money out of parking fines
  • Penalty charge notices issued against him for parking on single yellow lines in the zone are unenforceable because, technically, there should be no road markings at all within a CPZ
  • In law, CPZs don't even exist but are "creatures of statute" and, in order to be enforceable, should comply with rigidly laid down road marking regulations
  • In order to meet the definition of a CPZ, there must be no road marking whatsoever within them, except signs indicating parking spaces and yellow lines
  • The presence of any other road markings at any point in the CPZ - including zig-zag lines or yellow bus stop clearways - render the entire CPZ invalid
Controlled Parking Zone rules
Entrance and exit signs show the hours during which all on-street parking is controlled
Parking is only permitted in designated parking spaces, the remainder of the kerbside is subject to yellow line restrictions
Single yellow lines prohibit parking during the hours of control, double yellow lines prohibit parking at any time
Some single yellow lines have signs showing different, usually longer, operation times
Parking during the permitted hours may be free or charged

What Sunderland City Council claimed:

  • Mr Herron's interpretation of road signage rules flies in the face of common sense
  • Legislators could not have intended the rules to be read thus
  • If this strict interpretation of the regulations was right a single pedestrian crossing marked on the road could invalidate a vast CPZ
  • The case could affect the legitimacy of parking tickets issued across the country in other "over-sized" CPZs and lead to thousands of motorists applying to have parking fines quashed
  • They vehemently dispute the accusation that local authorities rely on the confusion generated by the zones to make money out of parking fines
  • Their CPZ is being operated lawfully and drivers are being given the necessary information over where and when they can park

Parking fine man in court defeat
25 May 10 |  Wear
Parking fines 'crusader' in court
19 May 10 |  Wear
Three-decade parking error revealed
01 Feb 10 |  London
Court challenge for parking fines
25 Sep 08 |  London

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