TWO plumbers who were changing a flat tyre when they were flashed by a controversial camera car have been successful in overturning their joint £140 fine.
But Kyle Richmond and Arthur Jaggers say their victory was not without a battle and they urged other motorists who fall victim of the camera car to put up a fight if they believe they are right.
The saga started when Kyle, 28, who works for 59-year-old Arthur and his town firm, AJ Plumbing, was driving along Hart Lane, in Hartlepool.
He said the passenger-side wheel of his van went completely flat so he pulled over at the side of the road and telephoned Arthur to bring a spare tyre.
Arthur, a dad-of-two from Oakwood Close, Bishop Cuthbert, in Hartlepool, arrived in his van and the pair set about changing the damaged wheel when they noticed the camera car drive past and flash them.
Then two days later the two workmen each received a letter from Hartlepool Borough Council telling them that they had parked illegally and were being fined £70, reduced to £35 if they coughed up within 21 days.
Dad-of-one Kyle, of Swaledale Crescent, in Billingham, says they appealed against the decision. But it was rejected on the grounds that the camera car’s photographic evidence showed no-one present at the vehicles.
The plumbers pointed out that they were on the opposite side of the van crouching down changing the deflated wheel.
Kyle said: “I rang up to ask why they had rejected it and was told it was because they couldn’t see us changing the tyre.
“They were adamant they were right.
“I explained it was the passenger side wheel closest to the pavement and the pictures the camera car took were of the driver’s side, closest to the road, so obviously we couldn’t be seen.
“I fully support the camera car in Hartlepool, but in the right place and for the right reasons.
“I just want to warn people to be aware that if they have a valid reason too, then push the issue if you are certain you’re innocent. We work hard for our money, and weren’t going to pay for something we haven’t done.”
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We consider at least one stage of appeal when a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) has been issued and where disputes subsequently remain unresolved.
“The person making the appeal also has the additional opportunity to refer their case to independent adjudication.
“Our appeals process ensures that motorists have every opportunity to dispute a PCN if they believe it has been issued unreasonably.
“It allows for the consideration of mitigating circumstances which may not be apparent at first review, although we should remind people that providing a false statement in an appeal can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000.
“We should also point out that the video and still images from the camera car provide strong evidence which the council can and does use to substantiate its case on occasions when PCNs are being contested.
“Our CCTV evidence does show two vans parked together and it is apparent that a person is present by the side of the van. But it does not confirm that repairs are taking place to the vehicle.
“In cases where people claim in an appeal that their vehicle had broken down, our policy is to seek evidence to substantiate the claim.
“Although this would normally be in the form of a recovery bill, written receipt, etc, we felt that the circumstances of this particular case, including the additional letter submitted by the man’s employer confirming the events, were sufficient to give the person’s appeal the benefit of the doubt and we withdrew the PCN.”