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Half of challenges to parking and bus lane fines succeed in Northern Ireland

Anger as it is revealed half of challenges to parking and bus lane fines succeed

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 01/12/2016

More than 2,000 people have been fined for driving in Belfast bus lanes during the night when buses aren't even running
More than 2,000 people have been fined for driving in Belfast bus lanes during the night when buses aren't even running

More than 26,000 parking and bus lane fines have been scrapped in the last two years after they were appealed, it has emerged.

Over half of challenges were successful, resulting in 36 being written off every day.

Based on the minimum £45 fine, it equates to around £1.2m worth of penalties being wrongly issued.

The figures were released by the Department for Infrastructure.

DUP MLA Christopher Stalford (below) said it was firm evidence of an over-zealous approach from wardens. He cited the Lisburn Road in his South Belfast constituency, which each year is the most ticketed street in Northern Ireland.

"There is no question that they are over-zealous," he said.

"There are particular parts of my constituency, I think especially of the Lisburn Road for example, and the figures would bear this out.

"I genuinely believe there are certain areas that are being exploited as a cash cow by those who issue tickets.

"The effect of their actions has been to actively deter people from going to the Lisburn Road and spending money there." Figures released by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard show that in 2014/15 and 2015/16 a total of 48,409 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were challenged.

Some 26,525 of these - 55% - were successful.

Of the 21,884 rejected cases, 619 were appealed further - and 204 were scrapped.

In total, 26,729 PCNs were written off in the two-year period.

Mr Stalford added: "The fact that so many appeals are upheld underscores the need for the public to be more prepared to challenge the issuing of tickets.

"In the majority of occasions challenges are successful, and this indicates that the way in which the system is being applied is imperfect."

One motorist contacted the Belfast Telegraph to described how he successfully challenged a fine.

He was ticketed after 8pm on a Thursday - even though restrictions ended at 6pm.

He said: "I was parked in Murray Street near the Europa Hotel and was given a ticket at 8.01pm - despite the fact that the sign clearly said the restrictions end at 6pm. I tried to put money in the machine to be certain, even though I knew I didn't need to pay it.

"But the machine doesn't take the money after 6pm.

"I have no idea why the traffic wardens were operating at 8pm at night.

"The warden had just gone down the street - they must have ticketed 12 or 13 cars.

"I rang up and managed to get the issue resolved."

The Department for Infrastructure said: "Of the total PCNs issued, only 9% are successfully challenged.

"A penalty charge notice is issued to drivers who contravene regulations, in line with legislation.

"Often these contraventions impact other commuters and have a knock-on impact on traffic flow.

"The department would prefer that drivers adhere to the law."

In April this year the Belfast Telegraph reported how the Lisburn Road in the south of the city was the most ticketed street in Northern Ireland.

It topped a list of places in Belfast where commuters were most likely to be slapped with a parking fine.

Almost 35,000 penalties were dished out in a 12-month period across the city.

The amount of penalties which have been wrongly issued based on the minimum £45 cost of a fine

The number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) which were written off in a two-year period

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