PARKING tickets may have been issued illegally on scores of city streets.
There are fears that Plymouth City Council could face a flood of claims for refunds after a motorist won her case at a parking adjudication hearing.
The ticket issued against the unnamed driver has been overturned because the lines were incorrectly painted more than a decade ago.
Now it has emerged that about 30 per cent of residents' parking schemes put in by Devon County Council when it still controlled transport in Plymouth are not legal.
Last week, the city council was working frantically to correct the mistake.
Under Government regulations, there should be single lines at the end of a residents' bay — but a third of the city's schemes have double lines.
Councillor Kevin Wigens, the city's Cabinet member for transport, said he first learnt of the problem in the middle of last week. Wardens were immediately stopped from issuing tickets on the problem streets.
"We corrected more than half the bays by Friday, and the rest will be done within a few days," said Mr Wigens.
He refused to comment on whether the ruling would open the floodgates for people to demand refunds of parking tickets.
But Labour city councillor Brian Vincent, who drew the attention of The Herald to the problem, said he feared that it could cost the council thousands of pounds.
Jim Aspey, who has lived in Wellington Street, Greenbank, for more than 30 years, said he was disgusted.
"You've got to have a permit and we have to pay for visitors tickets as well."
He said the lines in Wellington Street had been painted more than ten years ago. About 500 permits had been issued for only 200 bays in his area.
"When the students are here, there is nowhere to park," said Mr Aspey.
He pays £25 a year for his permit, and also buys books of tickets for visitors.
A council spokesman said: "As this issue applies to a minority of our residential bays, we continue to enforce the majority.
"All of our residential bays are clearly signed and widely understood, therefore we'd urge motorists not to behave any differently, so as not to run the risk of enforcement."
Mr Wigens said: "Obviously it wouldn't have been correct for us to continue patrolling and ticketing in the normal way.
"My understanding is that a number of local authorities find themselves in a similar position.
"Councils do their best to strike a balance, protecting the interests of residents and giving them a reasonable chance to park near their homes.
"All of the bays affected were ones that came across to us from Devon County Council when Plymouth became a unitary authority in 1998.
"It does seem to many people, including myself, that these sorts of technical issues aren't within the spirit of the legislation."
Mr Vincent, the shadow Cabinet member for transport, said: "They've stopped the wardens from issuing tickets, so you've got all these wardens doing nothing. They are costing the council money but not bringing in revenue.
"This could be a bombshell if people who have been prosecuted challenge it.
"It could cost the council thousands of pounds."
Mr Vincent, who is an Efford and Lipson councillor, added: "There will be a huge loss of income until the lining is made legal.
"People who pay for residents' permits aren't going to be very happy having paid £25 a year when it turns out that anyone could park."