This was a challenge to the lawfulness of a local authority order imposing charges for on-street motorcycle parking.
In 2006, Westminster City Council reviewed a report that had been prepared on the issue of motorcycle traffic and, in particular, parking issues in its area. The report noted the inadequacy in the number of available parking bays for motor-cyclists and the authority’s strategy to extend such provision. The report did not anticipate any reduction in the number of motor-cyclists and, therefore, set out a number of options for addressing the parking problem, including the introduction of charging. The justification for charging was based on the inequity in charging one type of motorist and not another and to help fund the costs of the legalisation and extension of bays and the associated ongoing costs of enforcement. The report contained an estimate of the cost and revenue benefit to the authority if it adopted the proposal to increase the number of parking bays and to charge motor-cyclists for parking.
In July 2008, experimental orders were made for the scheme under s 9 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (the Act) and charging came into effect the following month. Consultation letters were sent out to organisations and individuals in order to seek their responses to the experimental implementation of the charging scheme. The consultation period lasted for six months.
A report was submitted to the cabinet member of environment and transport. It acknowledged that the scheme had raised significantly more revenue than had been forecast. The report further asserted that a fair charge should be paid by motor-cyclists as they took up kerb-side space, albeit less than that of other types of vehicles. The scheme was approved by the cabinet member, who was minded to make it permanent subject to the implementation of changes, including the abolition of all off-street parking charges for motor-cyclists and a reduction in the level of on-street parking. Those amendments were incorporated into the scheme in June 2009, following which a 21 day period of consultation commenced. Objections were received and a further report was prepared by the authority in October (the October report).
The claimant submitted that the authority: (i) had failed to use its powers for legitimate statutory purposes and had exceeded its powers under the Act by having used them for a non-statutory purpose, namely the raising of revenue; and (ii) had failed to carry out a satisfactory consultation exercise before making the orders.
The application for judicial review was dismissed.
It was established law that s 45 of the Act was not intended to provide a general revenue raising power. Section 45 of the Act could only be exercised for the statutory purposes set out in s 122 of the Act, namely ‘to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic (including pedestrians) and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the highway’. Where there was no statutory justification for the exercise of powers, then the fact that they would raise revenue through charging would not render them compliant. The statutory purpose of the provision of ‘suitable and adequate parking places on and off the highway’ under s 122 of the Act applied to the designation of parking places. Section 45 provided, without qualification, that the authority might designate parking places on-street, with or without charges, and the production of a surplus was specifically contemplated by s 55 of the Act. Accordingly, a local authority was not bound, when setting a charge, to reflect only the immediate statutory purpose of the provision of sufficient on-street parking or of paying for it. The charges might have needed to have been set at a level which had the desired effect, namely the rationing of on-street parking with the intention of encouraging the use of off-street parking.
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal.