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Stockport Council backs down over Excel’s bad signs

[5 Feb 2012] Stockport Council has backed down from its bullish position that the controversial signs at the Peel Centre car park are 'illegal advertisements’ that lack the planning permission they need. It now says that because the landowner claims the signs have been in place for more than 10 years, the council will do nothing because the signs benefit from ‘deemed consent’ – even if the landowner’s claim proves to be untrue.  (Download the sign here: 2MB.)

‘The Council has fully assessed this case and, having regard for all material considerations, is satisfied that it would not be in the public interest to progress with further enforcement action, should the land owners fail to submit a planning application or provide sufficient evidence that the signs have been in place for over 10 years.’

This is code for ‘It would cost us too much to take on Peel Holdings, the landowners, so we won’t bother – even if they’re telling us porkies.’

The transport minister responsible for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has refused to act on the Peel Centre signs, which are potentially raking in more than £300,000 a year for the car-park operator, Excel Parking Services Ltd of Sheffield. This follows the DVLA’s failure to take action against the trade body it accredits to oversee private parking, the British Parking Association (BPA). The DVLA merely asked the BPA to investigate Excel and its signs, but did not require the BPA to investigate impartially or have the work done by specialists in legibility or driver behaviour.

In a court case on 15 September 2011, Excel admitted they’d imposed £100 charge notices on 11,498 drivers who’d failed to ‘pay and display’ at the car park during a three-year period up to March 2010. The judge found the signs to be inadequate and dismissed Excel’s claim for breach of contract against a driver it took to court.

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