Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 27 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Ms B’s complaint about a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) she received for driving in a bus lane. Ms B has used her right of appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) and the Ombudsman has no power to investigate.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Ms B, received a PCN for driving in a bus lane. She says the signs are inadequate and she should have received a ‘grace’ distance as she was turning left from her place of work and could not join the traffic without entering the bus lane. Ms B has used her right of appeal to the TPT but her appeal was rejected. Ms B complains about this decision and that the costs outstanding have now reached £90.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal or a government minister or started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6), as amended)
- The Traffic Penalty Tribunal considers parking and moving traffic offence appeals for all areas of England outside London.
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered Ms B’s complaint and information provided by the Council. I have considered the Ombudsman’s role and powers.
What I found
- Ms B received the PCN in August 2018. She had the option of paying the PCN at the discounted rate of £30, or challenge its issue. Parliament has provided motorists who wish to challenge a PCN with free and clear appeal rights and the Ombudsman expects motorists to use these.
- Ms B made representations to the Council, explained she had been leaving her place of work and that she should be allowed a 100-metre grace distance for driving in the bus lane. The Council considered Ms B’s representations and rejected them. The Council said there was no such grace period. The Council told Ms B her options now were to pay the outstanding PCN in the next 14 days at the reduced rate of £30, pay later at the full rate of £60, or make an appeal to the independent adjudicator.
- Ms B made an appeal to the independent adjudicator and lost this. The adjudicator provided reasons for their decision and told Ms B to pay the £60 penalty within 28 days. The adjudicator advised Ms B that if she did not pay, regulations allow the authority to increase the penalty by 50%.
- Ms B has not paid and her costs are currently £90.
- While Ms B disagrees with the PCN and the adjudicator’s decision, the Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. The adjudicator has considered Ms B’s appeal and dismissed it. That decision is binding on the Council and Ms B. The Ombudsman has no power to change it or consider a complaint about the adjudicator’s decision.
- Both the Council and the TPT have provided Ms B with clear advice about the consequences of not paying the PCN. Ms B has not paid and her costs have increased because of that. Ms B has used the right of appeal Parliament has provided her with. If she wishes to continue to challenge the PCN and refuse to pay, she may need legal advice on how to do this.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate Ms B’s complaint because she has used her right of appeal to the independent adjudicator.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman