Admin mistake means free High Street parking for all: Traffic wardens told not to issue tickets

Berkhamsted High Street: now available for free parking after county council slip-up
Berkhamsted High Street: now available for free parking after county council slip-up

Traffic wardens have been instructed to let all drivers get away with parking on yellow lines and in disabled bays in certain parts of Berkhamsted High Street.

It is understood that tickets they issue on the town centre road may not be legally enforceable due to an administrative slip-up made by Herts County Council in 1990.

Ruth Chasen, senior support officer for the authority’s highways department, said that parking fines must be supported by the relevant Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), signs where appropriate and lines.

She said: “If any one of these parts is not 100% correct there can be a challenge. It should be noted however this does not necessarily make it unenforceable.”

The highways officer’s comments came in a letter to a woman who had expressed concern about an increase in the number of vehicles parking on the pavements in Berkhamsted town centre.

It was published on an internet forum in December – but the situation has still not been sorted out.

In the letter, Ruth Chasen said: “In the case of Berkhamsted High Street you are correct that Hertfordshire County Council has advised Dacorum Borough Council not to issue tickets as offenders could possibly challenge the TRO on a technicality.

“We believe that Dacorum Borough Council may however be issuing warning notices. The police can issue tickets for obstruction.”

Another letter posted on the forum – which is on the Transition Town Berkhamsted website – comes from councillor Ian Reay.

He says problems arose because the Parking Ombudsman upheld a driver’s appeal against a penalty charge received on the High Street.

He said: “The Ombudsman in considering the appeal, raised a question whether the speed and parking restrictions on the High Street, introduced in 1990, were lawfully applied. HCC has decided that the most appropriate way forward is to reapply for Traffic Orders for the High Street.

“Unfortunately, that is a fairly long process, requiring every sign and parking restriction on the High Street to be reassessed for the Orders to be legally watertight.

“In these circumstances some parking restrictions on the High Street cannot be enforced until HCC can arrange for revised Orders to be introduced.”

In the letter – which was put online in January – Mr Reay said that if any car is causing an obstruction the police can be called on non-emergency number 101.

He said: “It is clearly desirable that knowledge of this is not widespread since that would only exacerbate the problem.”

But rumours about the parking problem have now been spreading throughout Berkhamsted. It is unclear why the new TRO is still not in place in the High Street.

Herts County Council’s press office spokesman Tom Shipp’s response to the Gazette’s enquiries was brief.

In a statement, he said: “We are working with Dacorum Borough Council to establish whether there are any issues with parking enforcement on Berkhamsted High Street.”