Media Frenzy

May 29, 2008

“To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.” (BBC mission statement originated by John Reith)

Apologies for the lack of posts to this blog over the last couple of months but my attention has been focussed elsewhere. The number of people seeking help rises by the week, and I am sorry if you have left a message and I have not responded. This issue is being addressed.

My colleagues and I have been occupied with making sure the Media are “on message” over the last few months. Their interest was awakened by the changeover in parking legislation from the Road Traffic Act 1991 to the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Back in January we had the BBC documentary “Road Rage” followed by the ITV offering “Parking Wars” in March.

More recently I was contacted by BBC Radio 4’s iPM team who wanted to do a piece on CCTV enforcement. I was able to take one of their reporters along to a meeting of the London Motorists’ Action Group to meet with (among others) Lord Lucas and Neil Herron. This went out on May 17th.

I’m guessing that this must have sown the germ of an idea within the BBC News department, because shortly afterwards I was contacted by a researcher from the ‘Breakfast’ show who said that they wanted to do a piece on unlawful enforcement by Local Councils. I supplied her with lots of material, and I ended up dealing with queries at hourly intervals for most of yesterday.

The result was staggering. The message came across loud and clear in this morning’s programme: If councils want motorists to obey the law, they should themselves abide by the law. The story is summarised in this article Council motoring fines ‘illegal’ here on the BBC News website. As far as I know it was also picked up by Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live. When I switched on the radio in my car this evening it was the topic for the ‘Drivetime with Eddie and Kath’ phone-in programme on BBC Radio London.

That wasn’t the end of the story. Ealing Council (who else) rang up the Beeb to find out where they had got their figures from for the South Road & St Joseph’s Drive box junction. (An FOI request of course.)They also did not seem to know that there had been two rulings against this junction at PATAS (doh!). And how could the BBC possibly know that this junction had not received authorisation from the DfT? (Cos we talk to the DfT about these matters, which is more than Ealing does.)

So I was fielding more phone calls from the researcher.

But the best bit of news was that this item generated a TON of e-mail from viewers. It obviously touched a nerve with motorists and gave councils a real fright.

I leave you with this thought. The chances are that most PCNs are issued unlawfully. Do not assume that the PCN is correct – question it. You have been given a right of appeal – use it.

If everyone appealed, the system would grind to a halt. Wouldn’t that be nice…