Wish You Were Here

August 26, 2007

I thought I might have a rest from the subject of traffic enforcement for a couple of weeks while on holiday, but here in Vancouver there is a story that I just had to report on.

The City’s municipal workers have been on strike since July over the failure to agree anew employment contract. The libraries are being picketed, some garbage is piling up (although I haven’t seen any myself), but what really caught my eye is the fact that the ‘Meter Maids’ are on strike.

So, does this mean traffic chaos? Well no, everything seems to be running smoothly thank you. Motorists seem to be parking sensibly; they are just not putting any money in the parking meters.

So who needs traffic enforcement? Well, obviously the Vancouver City Officials. They can see a large proportion of the $25-$30 million revenue that they rely on just disappearing out of the window.

When the strike first started, press releases urged motorists to “keep plugging those parking meters”. If we are to believe the stories, then there are a handful of dedicated managers still handing out tickets. I personally have not seen a single parking meter that does not show “00:00”.

One group of activists has gone so far as to sabotage 300 parking meters to make sure that the City cannot collect parking revenue and then not pay the workers.

Take heart, UK motorists. You are not alone. Traffic enforcement appears to be an emotive subject here in Canada also.

As I see it, this strike only goes to prove that, as in the UK, parking enforcement is a revenue raising scam. In the absence of enforcement, the motorists are happier, the traffic is flowing freely and safely, and the only casualty is the City’s budget.


The Secrets of Hammersmith and Fulham

August 13, 2007

“There are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Way back in December 2006 I put in a Freedom of Information Act request to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF for short) for a list of box junctions that were being enforced. I already knew from the PATAS appeals register that they were enforcing the junctions of New Kings Road/Bagleys Lane and New Kings Road/Wandsworth Bridge Road.

To cut a long story short, the Council hid behind section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act which covers Law Enforcement Agencies, saying:

“In all the circumstances it is considered that withholding this information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it as disclosure would be likely to encourage unlawful use of yellow boxes in the borough. What I can say is that the council will be progressively increasing its use of enforcement through CCTV to provide a greater deterrent to the illegal use of box junctions and is likely to increasingly use mobile cameras.”

We live in a society that requires the location of all speed cameras to be disclosed and for these cameras to be in the open and clearly marked. In addition, most other London boroughs don’t have a problem with the disclosure of their box junction enforcement sites, so what makes LBHF think they are so special? Read the rest of this entry »

Islington’s Department of Dirty Tricks

August 11, 2007

“Speak when you are angry–and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” (Laurence J. Peter)

I have chosen the quotation above to remind me to remain objective as I write. I was furious yesterday after the PATAS hearing, but having mulled things over and had a good night’s sleep I am now in a more philosophical frame of mind.

The facts of this case are simple. The wording of Islington’s moving traffic PCN has been unlawful since November/ December 2006 when, in the words of Christine Weeks, Senior Administrative Officer, Parking and CCTV Services:

“Islington Parking Services changed the wording on the Moving Traffic Contravention Penalty Charge Notices to reflect the wording on our other CCTV Penalty Charge Notices. We were re-ordering stationery and it was felt that this was the best time to make the change. The extra wording was as a result of London Councils issuing a new set of documents in its Code of Practice guidance. For your information, I have attached a copy of the sample notices that the London Councils provided.”

I inspected the sample moving traffic PCN that she sent me and compared it to the wording of their new PCN. As far as I could see they did not correspond – chalk and cheese. I even rang up Christine to point this out. The above statement, obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request is a lie. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan’s Box Junction Drama

August 8, 2007

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” (Alfred Hitchcock)

All the ingredients were there. It would have made a good episode of New Street Law, Boston Legal or some such courtroom series. Erin Brockovich would have been proud of us.

Hard working, law abiding mother; a pillar of society, versus the oppressive bureaucratic machine. Hours of research and preparation, scrutinising the video evidence, Freedom of Information Requests and researching past cases; even some assistance from the Plain English Campaign.

The highs, the lows, nail biting tension, and a plot twist that puts “The Sixth Sense” to shame. Read the rest of this entry »

Significant Appeals

August 7, 2007

When I first started this blog I never really thought that I would join the ranks of the “real-time” bloggers, but so much is happening this week that I feel a need to document it as it unfolds.

Last month was a downer with all pending appeals cancelled, but this week I have two appeals that are definitely being contested. On Wednesday (8th Aug) we are up against Transport for London (TfL) and on Friday (10th Aug) we take on Islington.

The TfL appeal concerns the box junction at Battersea Bridge Road and Westbridge Road. This is being contested on four grounds:

  1. The confusing and ambiguous wording of the PCN renders it invalid
  2. The Wording of the Notice of Rejection does not conform to the legislation
  3. The yellow box marking does not conform to the legislation
  4. The contravention was unavoidable due to “unforeseen obstruction”.

TfL have not submitted anything to counter our arguments for points 1 and 2. They have strongly defended point 3, and would appear to be leaving the video evidence to speak for itself in support of point 4.

The Islington appeal concerns the box junction in Liverpool Road. That’s not really important because this is a test case to determine whether the wording of the Islington Moving Traffic PCN is lawful or not.

Experience has shown that previously, this kind of case would have ended up as a ‘no contest’. The fact that Islington Parking Dept has the courage to defend its actions does seem to confirm the commitment to put its house in order following the appointment of a Parking Advocate.

On top of this there are challenges taking shape against Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Waltham Forest.

Next instalment tomorrow…

The Silly Season

August 5, 2007

This news item culled from the Hamstead & Highgate Express 2/8/2007. Look like it’s one rule for them and another for us, as usual.

Double yellow peril is nothing for CCTV car

A CHEEKY council CCTV car driver spent a lucrative afternoon catching drivers illegally entering a box junction – while parked on a double yellow line.

Council workers sat in the car snapping motorists last Friday from the no parking spot on the corner of Compayne Gardens and West End Lane.

The car issued seven penalty charge notices to drivers who ignored a “no right turn” sign.

Double yellow lines ban parking 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because parking there is dangerous.

But a Camden Council spokesman said: “Our CCTV cars have permission to park on yellow lines as occasionally this is the only way they can capture the necessary information on vehicles that are breaking the law.

“The CCTV cars will only park in this way when it is both necessary and safe for them to do so/’

Ruislip/Mansell Road, Ealing

August 2, 2007

It’s good to see that the residents of the Borough of Ealing are creating a fuss about the tax farming activities of Ealing Council, specifically the yellow box junction at Ruislip Road and Mansell Road. My spies tell me that enforcement has now ceased at this junction and the camera has been removed.

Now let’s see if we can get some of that money back that was extorted from unsuspecting motorists. Read the rest of this entry »