Islington Caves In Without a Fight

February 17, 2007

Islington Council decided not to contest my appeal on 14th Feb, but they didn’t have the guts to admit defeat; they simply did not produce any evidence to counter my appeal. I was looking forward to resolving the issues raised in the appeal, so it turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax and a hollow victory.

I know of two other outstanding appeals pertaining to this purported box junction and I know of one PCN that has been cancelled at an early stage. I also know that, at last, they have stopped enforcing this illegal yellow box. I hope they don’t treat the other appelants in the same way as they treated me. I found it quite stressful waiting for the postman each day in the week leading up to the appeal wondering will they/won’t they contest? Read the rest of this entry »


Rules of Engagement

February 11, 2007

There is no statutory guidance given to local authorities on how to conduct the enforcement of moving traffic contraventions. This gives them the freedom to push the system to the limit in order to maximise revenue. They are aided and abetted by the herds of sheeple out there in the community who mindlessly acquiesce and part with their money as soon as a PCN lands on their doormat.

For those of us who wish to challenge the system, the complete lack of regulation makes life difficult. Individual councils are authorised by London Councils (formerly the Association of London Government). When authorised they are given a set of guidelines to follow, but there is no binding contract. The evidence suggests that no one ever bothers to read the guidelines.

If the guidelines were to be made mandatory then that would be a step in the right direction. As they stand, the guidelines are written by the councils, for the councils and as such are heavily biased against the motorist. Some revision is necessary in order to redress that balance. Read the rest of this entry »


Unlawful Enforcement in Haringey

February 8, 2007

A few days ago I received information from Haringey Council about the locations of their box junctions, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Coincidently, I was contacted around the same time by reporter William Lee from the Tottenham Journal. He had just received information about the revenue raised from penalties. I then did a quick tour of all the sites. Add this lot together and you get a picture of a Council that has been issuing Penalty Charge Notices unlawfully for the last 12 months or so. Read the rest of this entry »


Transport for London Admits Error

February 7, 2007

Here is the text of a letter received by my colleague today from Transport for London:

Dear Mr Unfortunate Motorist,

Penalty Charge Notice : GT1234567
Location of Contravention : Broad Lane/Stamford Road

Thank you for the email received from Mr Money Box Junction on 27th December 2006 concerning the above Penalty Charge Notice.

I am pleased to confirm that due to the reasons as stated in the email received for the above charge, we will be sending you a refund of £50.00 within the next 28 days and the penalty charge notice has been cancelled.

I am sorry for any inconvenience caused due to the incorrect issuing of the above penalty charge notice. Please be advised that Transport for London have ceased enforcement of the above yellow box junction pending further investigation.

So, from that I gather they are admitting that the box does not comply with Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, but there is a bit too much wriggle room. And what about all the other poor sods who have been ripped off on this yellow box; there’s no mention of refunds.

Anyone reading this who has received a PCN for stopping in this box junction, you can apply for a refund. Leave a message below if you want some help.

Not bad, but not good enough TfL. I think a word with the Local Government Ombudsman is still in order.

If you want to see how this all started click here.


Battle Scars

February 5, 2007

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This yellow box at the junction of Drayton Park and Benwell Road, N5 broke every rule in ‘The Idiots Guide to Traffic Engineering”. It will not be missed.


Meltdown at Transport for London?

February 3, 2007

On 27th December 2006 I sent an e-mail to Transport for London Traffic Enforcement Services challenging the legality of their enforcement of a yellow box situated in Broad Lane, N15. The details are covered in a previous post, but in summary I was acting on behalf of a colleague who had received and paid the penalty charge a few days before.

I phoned TfL at regular intervals to check progress, and each time I was informed that the e-mail was in a queue awaiting someone’s attention. Each time I phoned I pointed out that there was a time limit for a response of 31st January 2007 in the e-mail, at which point I would complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Eventually, on 22nd Jan is was told that the e-mail was being taken out of the ‘pending’ queue and was being handed to the Representations Department. I phoned again on 30th Jan to discover that no one in that department had read the e-mail. On Friday 2nd Feb my colleague received an acknowledgement (dated 30th Jan) that the matter was being dealt with. They didn’t bother to send me a copy.

I guess I should carry out my threat, because what I wrote was:

“You have until 31/01/2007 to refute the allegation that the yellow box makings at Broad Lane, N15 between Cunningham Road and Stamford Road do not conform with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002. ”

They haven’t refuted, so a complaint to the LGO will be on it’s way. I hate to think how large the backlog of correspondence must be at TfL.

On another front, I put a Freedom of Information request in to TfL for a report of a survey that they carried out in 2003 looking at the effects of box junction enforcement. I recently received a summary report only to find that the contents said that there was a (missing) second volume containing a detailed breakdown of each site.

I telephoned the contact on the accompanying letter who said he would look in to it. Nothing… A week later I phoned again. Apparently the document was 300 pages long, 3 inches thick, there was only one copy in existence and no one could work out how they could possibly send me a copy… Would someone please phone me back when they had figured it out? Nothing…

There is a follow-up survey originally due in July 2006, which I was told was delayed and would be ready by the end of January 2007. When will it be published? Nobody knows.

The managers at TfL may have some high ideals and objectives, but they certainly don’t seem to have the quality and quantity of staff to implement them. How long before they become like the Home Office – ‘unfit for purpose’?


Minimalism

February 2, 2007

This summer my wife and I visited Berlin. On this trip I fulfilled a long held ambition to visit the Bauhaus Museum; I wasn’t disappointed. The museum contains many exhibits chronicling the work of one of the Bauhaus’ directors, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who is the person best known for promoting the concept of “Less is More”.

So what has this got to do with road markings? Plenty – or maybe a need for just the opposite. I was Googleing the phase “removal of road markings” when up popped a reference to a Dutch traffic engineer by the name of Hans Monderman. Hans has taken the concept of “less is more” to heart. His philosophy is that by removing road signs and markings you place the responsibility for safe transit squarely back in the hands of the road users: motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

In some ways this is not unlike the airline pilot who is ultimately responsible for the safety of his/her aircraft. Contrary to popular belief, an air traffic controller cannot order a pilot to do anything; s/he can only advise the pilot.

We drivers have been absolved of responsibility. There are signs everywhere ordering us about and we are commanded when to stop and when to go by traffic lights. We are always on the defensive, mindful of the fact that someone, somewhere is watching us on CCTV ready to pass judgement on our every move, and we have lost the ability to communicate with other road users properly.

No wonder the topic on the radio this morning was road rage. Just think about that for a minute all you legislators and traffic engineers out there. Maybe the cure for road rage is less signs, less regulation and less surveillance. We are after all, fundamentally socially responsible and thoughtful beings.

I shall refrain from the usual blogster’s tendency to rewrite someone else’s material and point you in the direction of this excellent introductory article about Hans Monderman’s work if you want to find out more.

And talking as we were of our trip to Berlin, we chose to drive there. Oh yes it was exhilarating to crank the car up to its maximum speed once we got onto the German Autobahn, but it could not be sustained for long. After a while I settled for a cruise speed of around 100 mph. The great thing was that it was my decision based on my assement of the road conditions, the car’s ability to perform and my capability as a driver. It was rewarding to be able to concentrate solely on the task of driving, without the need to constantly look in my mirror for a blue light or the flash of a speed camera.