THOUSANDS of drivers will see their speeding prosecutions torn up thanks to the bungled enforcement of a 40mph restriction.
Cheshire Police and the Highways agency are handing drivers an early Christmas present by reversing the convictions of 4,128 motorists caught for speeding on the eastbound carriage way of the A5117 between junctions of the A550 and A540 in Cheshire.
The busy route had a reduction in the speed limit from 70mph to 40mph imposed due to roadworks in spring.
Police have since discovered however that because a Highways Agency “renewal traffic order” had lapsed they had no power to enforce any restrictions.
They identified the error on Monday, December 15 and immediately stopped enforcement action.
Their powers ran out on April 9, and were re-instated on December 17 - meaning 4,128 drivers were prosecuted wrongly in this period, receiving fines, attending court and undertaking speed awareness courses.
The Highways Agency says it regrets the situation but has acted quickly to rectify it, and a legal limit of 40mph in the area is now in place.
A spokesman for the agency said: “The legal power to enforce the speed limit came into effect on October 9, 2006 but expired on 8 April 2008, although signing and cameras remained in place during continuing roadworks.
“Temporary orders can be extended for periods of six months at a time.
“Unfortunately in this instance the Highways Agency did not implement the legal powers to extend the order.
“The Highways Agency has corrected the position to provide speed restriction enforcement powers from December 17, 2008 in recognition of the need to maintain the safety of road users and road workers as construction works continue.”
Superintendent Guy Hindle of Cheshire Police said: “We are not happy to progress with offences on this road which occurred between April 9 and December 17, 2008.
“Anyone who committed a speeding offence between these dates on this section of road will be entitled to have the points removed from their licence and their fines returned.
“Police are currently identifying everyone affected and we will write to them in the New Year informing them of how fines will be refunded and how any points on their licence will be removed.
“There is no need for people to contact police or provide any documentation, we will be in touch with them.”
Last edited by paper_boy; 24th Dec 2008 8:29am.