Sunday, May 29, 2011

If there are so many drivers failing to heed the signs then those in charge of traffic management should be replaced by engineers who will come up with a more effective solution to manage traffic and get drivers to comply ... but that would cause the cash to dry up!
I am sure that this is just the beginning of the Grafton Road story ;-)

Revealed: The £5m raised by one camera on Britain’s most baffling road
By Andrew Buckwell
Mail on Sunday
29th May 2011

Motorists have been fined a staggering £5 million for driving down a quiet residential street which has been dubbed ‘Britain’s most baffling road’.
More than 41,000 drivers have been hit with penalties after a council erected nine signs that confuse everyone who enters the road, and a CCTV camera.

Most confusing is the rule that bans motorists from driving one way down the street in the morning and then from going in the opposite direction in the afternoon.

Last night campaigners accused the Labour-controlled Camden Council in North London of using motorists as a ‘cash cow’ to help boost Town Hall coffers.
Paul Pearson, a parking campaigner who runs the Penalty Charge Notice website, said: ‘It’s absolutely staggering. This is highway robbery. It’s one of most profitable cameras in the country – and it’s in a residential street.

‘This is a clear case of using cameras to raise revenue for a cash-strapped Town Hall.’

Until five years ago, access to Grafton Road in Kentish Town was restricted by a hydraulic bollard and a set of traffic lights that showed either red or green, depending on the position of the bollard.
Then, in 2006, the council lowered the bollard and introduced signs and a camera to capture breaches.
Drivers are now confronted with nine signs, the set of defunct traffic lights and the sunken bollard.

Confusing: Camden Council has been raking it in thanks to these baffling signs
The mouth of the road has been divided into three sections with a
central section blocked off and accessible only by emergency vehicles, with lanes for cars either side.

As the traffic is funnelled into the lanes, the confusion begins.
Two pairs of access signs warn cars and motorbikes of restrictions to their passing, indicating the exact times they cannot pass – 7am to 10am one way, 2pm to 7pm the other.
Then there are two no-entry signs applying to the lane on the other side of the road, one width-restriction sign, one cycle sign and a traffic-camera sign.

Figures revealed in a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday show that the camera caught 41,237 motorists between October 2006 and March 2011, at a rate of almost 800 a month.

Motorist David Howard, 51, said: ‘The signs are so small and numerous you have to slam on your brakes to see them, by which time you’ve been flashed. I bet everyone going down it the first time receives a ticket. I’m certain it’s deliberate.’

A Camden Council spokesman last night denied the camera was a trap. He said: ‘The signs stating the restrictions are clear to motorists.’

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No excuses. No TRO then give back the money

Another blunder by another council. Traffic Regulation Orders are legal documents. If you don't have one or it's incorrect then you can't keep the money. Council cutbacks should come from culling the people paid handsomely from the public purse who have failed to deliver the most basic of legal requirements. No point politicians blaming the previous administration. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the council officers responsible.
No law ... no penalty. The District Auditor needs to be tasked with the investigation and the Local Government Ombudsman brought in to investigate the maladministration causing injustice to thousands.

Hyndburn parking tickets since 2008 'could be invalid'
Lancashire Telegraph
Tuesday 24th May 2011
Exclusive By Emma Cruces

EVERY parking ticket issued in an East Lancashire borough over the last three years could be invalid, it has emerged.

Hyndburn Council failed to update its bylaws in line with a new Traffic act in 2008.

Parking campaigners have described it as a ‘major blunder’ and believe it means thousands of tickets issued ‘could be overturned’.

Similar cases have seen the government agency, which would adjudicate on the matter, order that mass refunds occur.

It says ‘outdated terminology invalidates a penalty charge’.

However, the council is confident it will not have to return thousands of pounds in fines, claiming the use of incorrect terms ‘does not affect liability’.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said if the fears proved correct it was the latest in a ‘long list of disasters’ his party’s new ruling group had inherited from the ousted Conservatives.

Town centre trader Chris Fisher said he discovered the council’s bylaw document was out of date after looking into a parking ticket he received this March.

Mr Fisher contacted Neil Herron, the founder of parking watchdog Parking Appeals.

Mr Herron has become a thorn in the side of councils across the country, helping drivers overturn tickets.

He urged motorists to appeal claiming the situation could see all tickets since 2008 overturned. He said: “It’s a major blunder.

“Hyndburn uses the wrong terminology, refers to the wrong legislation.

“They expect members of the public to obey signs to the letter and not be one minute late but can’t even get their own house in order.”

The government repealed the 1991 Road Traffic Act in March 2008, but gave councils two years notice to apply for new powers under the 2004 act.

Though Hyndburn tickets themselves quote the 2004 act, the council’s bylaw document still quotes the 1991 act.

A spokesperson said they believed this ‘does not affect liability’, adding: “We don’t accept their view of the law and have responded saying this.

“Mr Fisher is entitled to set out his case before a parking adjudicator however and they will make the decision.

“The council's view is that the penalty charge notice in question was correctly issued by a civil enforcement officer in accordance with requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004.”

Hyndburn’s bylaw document is said to use outdated terminology such as ‘parking attendant’ instead of ‘civil enforcement officer’ and refer to the Road Traffic Act 1991 instead of the Road Traffic Act 2004, in key areas.

The fine amount in the council’s bylaw is also said to be set at £60 however the 2004 act quoted on on Mr Fisher’s ticket gives the amount as £40.

Mr Fisher, who owns, Blackburn Road, Accrington, said: “As a trader there is nowhere where you can park all day so you have to keep moving your car on from place to place.

“I was a bit late moving from a three hour spot on Blackburn Road one day and this is the result.

“I just find it frustrating you get no thanks or help as a trader in the town centre and are expected to do extra work just to get yourself from A to B.

“After all that it turns out the council hasn’t done its own homework.”

Earlier this month Labour seized control of Hyndburn Council from the Conservative group.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “If this is proved accurate, it can be added to a long list of disasters at the hands of the council.”

Labour leader Miles Parkinson, who takes official control of the council tonight, said: “It sounds as if it warrants a serious investigation and could have a serious effect on the borough.”

But outgoing Conservative leader Peter Britcliffe he had been assured by the legal department the parking tickets were still valid.

He added: “However, it is for the adjudicator to decide. ”

Another council, another blunder ...

Town hall parking tickets may not be valid
by Steve White,
Daily Mirror

All parking tickets issued in a town since 2008 could be void after the council failed to update traffic by-laws.

Chris Fisher, 39, spotted Hyndburn council cites the out-of-date 1991 Road Traffic Act when he was ticketed in Accrington, Lancs.

The printer contacted Neil Herron, of Parking Appeals, who is now urging all motorists ticketed by the authority since the new Act took over in 2008 to appeal. He said: “This is a major blunder.”

The council insisted tickets were legal but referred cases to the parking adjudicator.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nice work if you can get it ...

Just had Yosser Hughes on the phone asking for Merton's contact details ...

Seems as though the way the consultant sees the way to save money is to 'improve the chances of a PCN being issued' rather than streamlining back-office processes ... or am I missing something?

£85k consultant set to cut Merton Council parking costs amid charges hike
Wimbledon Guardian
Friday 13th May 2011

By Omar Oakes
A management consultant is being paid £85,000 for 12 weeks’ work in an attempt to make the council’s parking department “better value for money” – but critics have questioned whether the outcome will be good news for motorists.

The consultant, drafted in from CapGemini, is looking at how to cut back-office costs in Merton Council’s parking services department.

The department, which current employs 58 full-time staff, spends £2.8m but last year made £9.3m from parking charges, fines and permits.

But Neil Herron, founder of parking control watchdog Parking Appeals, said he was concerned Merton would end up making changes to maximise parking revenue rather than offer a cheaper service.

He said: “Once they’ve made these changes, will it be cheaper to park? Will fewer parking tickets be issued? Will the number of complaints go down? I doubt it.

“The best way to improve the service is to have better signage and an efficient and transparent appeals system.”

Last year the council made £9.5m from car park tickets, parking permits and fines – and motorists have already been hit with higher costs through this year’s budget.

Free parking in some council car parks was cut from 20 minutes to 10 minutes and the imposition of controlled parking zones on Saturdays was announced for residents living in Merton Park.

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Mark Betteridge, said it was “working hard to transform services and to ensure it provides the very best value for money for residents”.

He said the review was funded from the transformation budget established under the previous [Conservative] administration.

He said: “This review will more than pay for itself as we look to implement the proposed changes that will reduce back-office costs.

“This will help in our drive to keep Merton’s running costs down so we can continue to maintain essential services and keep council tax low for our residents.”

But Rosemary McLaughlin, Merton Council branch secretary for trade union Unison, said: “It is outrageous in the current climate to engage even more consultants at the cost of £85,000.

"It would be expected in-house management with inflated salaries and pay increases would have the skills to transform any service within the council.”

In October, the Wimbledon Guardian revealed Merton Council was condemned by the Parking and Appeals Traffic Service for “underhand tactics”, after a traffic warden used an unmarked civilian car and issued a parking fine to a motorist after hardly any grace period.

And in March, papers released during Merton Council's 2011/12 budget showed the parking service had proposed a number of changes to take effect during this financial year.

Merton Council's proposed changes to parking services and enforcement:

1.Removal 20 min free parking at Pay and Display machines
2.Enforcement by mobile CCTV
3.Introduce borough-wide trade/business permit
4.New person set up charge for the issue of parking permits
5.Increase cost of business permits
6.Reduce observation time from five minutes to two minutes before the issue of a Parking Control Notice (PCN)
7.Review existing parking tariffs for Wimbledon Town Centre Car Parks and expand to all borough car parks
8.Increase by an average of 10% all On Street pay and display tariffs
9.Review all on street Pay and Display tariff structures
10.Expansion of Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) coverage subject to consultation
11.Increase enforcement at bus lanes
What do you think? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CCTV Not So SmartCar ticking timebomb

Tips 'n' icebergs an' all that!

I anticipate that many councils will be desperately checking their documentation to see whether they've blundered. Hard to justify censuring motorists if a council is breaking the law itself. A word of warning to those caught out ... just be open and transparent and admit the error and accept the consequences. There will be no super-injunctions available to council officers. The British public are a pretty forgiving lot when it comes to people admitting mistakes and saying sorry. They will however fight tooth and nail to expose those who deceive and lie.

Campaigner says Wirral CCTV spy car is 'illegal'
Wirral Globe
Monday 9th May 2011

THE campaigner who made national news by forcing a London council to take its CCTV "spy cars" off the road because of incorrect paperwork says Wirral must do the same.

Nigel Wise discovered discrepancies in the registration of cameras on two of Richmond and Twickenham council's Smart cars after being fined for parking last August.

Following his sucess in London, Mr Wise sent a Freedom of Information request to Wirral demanding to see their spy car paperwork.

Now he says he's found the same mistakes in Wirral's certificates - which would possibly invalidate fines.

Wirral Council has denied this however, and insists its certification is watertight.

Mr Wise successfully had his £100 fine overturned at a parking tribunal hearing last month after he revealed the Vehicle Certification Agency had not declared the actual camera that pictured him parked in the road as an “approved device”.

After the hearing, the council blamed the VCA for the administrative error and said all the council’s camera cars were “correctly licensed”.

But it was forced to make a U-turn and pull the cars off the road last week for officers to check documentation.

A Richmond council spokesman said officers would now go through documents with “a fine-toothed comb” and were looking into whether they would need to refund motorists.

It could have to hand back more than £1m in fines.

Mr Wise contacted the Globe after reading our website report on Friday that Wirral Council had confirmed certification of their car was all in order.

He said: " I think Wirral Council is in for a shock, a bombshell.

"The law clearly states that a council must be in a position to prove that the camera is an 'approved device.'

"Wirral Council would be unable to prove that - as no camera whatsoever is named on Wirral's certificates.

"Nor do they have the maker's name of the system used to record and review pictures.

"It is these elements that require certification. Not the car itself."

Mr Wise added: "This bare fact alone would invalidate any Wirral CCTV car fine or penalty that is taken to appeal.

"It is an inescapable fact that Wirral ought to now take their vehicles off the road forthwith pending the rectification of their inadequate and incomplete certificates."

He urged anyone who has recently received a penalty issued by the Wirral CCTV car to appeal.

The certificates have been seen by the Globe.

The Smart Car is the only item registered. There appears to be no mention of cameras or recording systems.

But a Wirral Council spokesman argued that the two cases are different.

He said: "It is our understanding that Richmond had made changes to its equipment which may have invalidated the original licences.

"Our equipment is the same as was originally approved by the Home Office. We are happy the licence is all in order."

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Let's hope Richmond Council's Leader is true to his word ...

The Richmond CCTV Smartcar case now looks like the Leader will conduct a full, independent investigation.

Leader and newly appointed Member of the House of Lords, Councillor Nicholas True's email to successful appellant Nigel Wise is shown below.
Given his position on London Council's Leader's Committee
and the fact that he is a newly appointed Lord we expect a full, no stone unturned investigation and if it transpires that the evidence placed before PATAS is correct then monies taken unlawfully from motorists MUST be refunded.
If the motoring public is to accept that parking enforcement is about traffic management rather than revenue raising then it must be fair, transparent, proportionate ... and most importantly LEGAL!

-----Original Message-----
From: Cllr Lord True
To: xxxxxxxx
Sent: Wed, 4 May 2011 10:06
Subject: RE: Humane Parking
Thank you. I am fully aware of this correspondence and others from you that I have asked to be examined independently.
I have asked for a full investigation and report to me.
In the interim I did not and do not intend to provide a fuller reply. I also need to receive appropriate legal and technical advice following the panel outcome.
I attach great importance to delivering a parking policy that recognises that parking control is a service designed to make communities more liveable and high streets vibrant and not one designed to gouge resources from an already highly taxed public.
However, proper enforcement of agreed parking policy is a part of this.
No doubt we will be in touch. As a Richmond Borough taxpayer you are entitled to equitable treatment under the law.

Nicholas True
Leader of the Council
Phone: 020 8876 9628
Bus. Email:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

D'Oh! Council blunder has major financial implications ...

When it comes to parking enforcement it is essential that those taking money from motorists ensure that THEY first comply fully with the law.

When they do it using Smartcar CCTV enforcement there is an even bigger responsibility due to the fact that the equipment MUST be approved by the Secretary of State.

When councils get it wrong then there first responsibility is to address the issue of those motorists fined unlawfully and then look at why highly paid council officers cannot follow simple guidelines and clear legislation.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Private Land ticket cancelled ... how many others have simply paid up?

Neil Herron, Metric Martyr campaigner, took on the parking enforcers for me
Christopher Booker
Sunday Telegraph 1st May 2011

A veteran campaigner, Neil Herron of Metric Martyrs fame has turned his attention to parking law, writes Christopher Booker.
Neil Herron, a veteran of the Metric Martyrs
campaign, is also tackling parking law
Last January I became embroiled in a little problem that I suspect others have shared. Unavoidably delayed overnight in London, I returned to my car parked at Bath station to find a penalty notice for £80, because I had overrun my allotted parking time. I explained to the parking company, Apcoa, why this had happened, and enclosed a cheque to cover the additional time. I also asked why there were seemingly no arrangements to allow drivers unavoidably caught like this to extend their parking time. Apcoa dismissively returned my cheque, insisting that I still owed them £80.

I then consulted my doughty friend Neil Herron, hero of the Metric Martyrs campaign, who has also in recent years become a scourge of the parking industry, by uncovering all the ways in which enforcement so often goes beyond the law. He said that his Parking Appeals Ltd would be delighted to fight my cause, because he had long been waiting for a test case like this.

Parking on private land is subject to contract law. Since I had immediately sought to remedy Apcoa’s loss by reimbursing them the money they were owed, I had honoured our contract – as he looked forward to explaining in court. Apcoa’s response was to send in debt collectors to demand their £80.

Neil’ s reply was, in effect, “See you in court” – knowing this was a case they would not wish to see put to legal test. The debt collectors now reply that Apcoa has decided to drop the matter – just as Neil predicted. He only regrets being deprived of that test case he has long been hoping for.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Not so Smartcars? "Simples ...get approval"

Quick to catch the unsuspecting motorist but now with a dilemma and another frank admission these 'Not So SmartCars' are set to cause a financial headache for Richmond Council. We reported earlier that Nigel Wise's case could be the tip of a very large iceberg.

Richmond Council earlier dismissed the loss of the PCN appeal at PATAS as a 'technicality.' However, it is a fundamental legal requirement that these CCTV Smartcar devices are 'approved' by the Secretary of State. If they are not then the council cannot issue PCNs ... "Simples."

If the council has issued the PCNs without legal authority to do so then they must refund the money. Let's hope that Richmond Council do the decent thing and lead by example.

Parking ticket camera cars taken off road
Evening Standard
Mark Blunden
27 Apr 2011

Drivers in one London borough were feeling a little less persecuted today after council chiefs took CCTV cars off the road following a blunder.

Richmond upon Thames town hall bosses said Smart Cars that issue parking tickets could be out of use for up to a week, potentially losing thousands of pounds in revenue.

The U-turn comes after a landmark ruling in which motorist Nigel Wise had a £100 fine thrown out by a parking appeal tribunal after he proved Richmond was using the wrong kind of cameras on its cars.

The carer, 59, claims councils across the capital, which issue up to £10 million in tickets through Smart Cars every year, are making similar errors.

Last week Richmond said that all its "CCTV camera cars are correctly licensed and were at the time of this (Mr Wise's) incident". But today, the authority admitted this was not the case and campaigners are demanding the authority refunds thousands of parking tickets issued by its two vehicles. A council spokesman said: "In light of Thursday's decision, we are looking at all documentation relating to camera cars.

"Until the checks are complete, both cars have been taken off the road."

Richmond earned more than £573,000 last year from 12,305 tickets issued through CCTV cars. Its parking services are contracted out to Vinci Park, but the final sign-off for camera licences rests with town hall officials.

It had originally blamed the Vehicle Certification Agency, which issues licences, for typographical errors on the certificates. The traffic wardens who normally sit in the cars will instead patrol the borough on foot.

Council still Smarting ...

The council were quick to change their 'terminology' after the earlier admissions, and appear to be blaming the VCA. Regardless of who is to blame the fact remains that it is clear the the vehicles were not legally able to issue PCNs without certification ... and this was the admission at PATAS.

The law is based on technicalities and, as the law is also a 'two-way street' if a motorist technically breaches a traffic order then a PCN can be issued BUT not by a council that does not have its 'technical' house in order.

This little tale has a long way to run ...

Motorist Nigel Wise wins parking fine appeal against Richmond Council over unlicensed CCTV car
Richmond and Twickenham Times
Friday 22nd April 2011
By Paul Teed

A motorist has won an appeal against a parking fine because the council’s CCTV car was not properly licensed.

Nigel Wise, 59, said the ruling could have implications for drivers who had been caught out by mobile surveillance units, because he believed Richmond Council had not correctly certified some of its filming apparatus since March 2007.

The campaigner, who also successfully challenged a ticket in July last year, told the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (Patas) hearing on Wednesday the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) had not declared the camera that snapped him in Powder Mill Lane, Whitton, in August last year as an “approved device”.

The council blamed the Department for Transport’s VCA, which it applied to for the certificate, and insisted all its CCTV cars had the correct licence.

Councillor Clare Head, cabinet member for traffic at the council, confirmed the VCA made a mistake on the paperwork it sent to the authority, adding: “This is all very frustrating, we believe we lost this case on a technicality. We will learn from this mistake and make sure it does not happen again.”

London Motorists’ Action Group, which backed Mr Wise’s case, claimed the hearing had wider implications for other affected drivers who could now try to overturn their tickets.

A spokesman for the group said: “Mr Wise presented to the tribunal detailed evidence, which proved none of the parking enforcement operations by Richmond’s Smart cars belonging to [parking enforcement company] NSL since March 2007 had been conducted by camera apparatus that was certified as authorised devices.”

Coun Head said: “The Government agency, VCA, responsible for issuing the certificates, made a mistake on the paperwork sent to us confirming the licence for one of our camera cars. Unfortunately, in addition to this, our representative at the hearing was not properly prepared and was unable to refute or verify the claim made by Mr Wise.

“I can now confirm all of Richmond Council’s CCTV camera cars are in fact correctly licensed and were at the time of this incident and also that the VCA document has since been corrected.”

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