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Bonkers Blog September 2011

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13 September - Huge whoppers. It’s not Smart

Hidden gestapo wagonAfter getting themselves on TV yesterday Bexley council issued a statement which may be read in full on Channel 5’s website. It includes…

Every year we issue fewer parking tickets than the year before and we issue the fourth lowest number of tickets in London. Last year, parking enforcement made no surplus for the Council. The MICE cars have been really effective at ending dangerous parking around schools. The cars have huge signs written on them which say they are carrying out enforcement, they have huge cameras on the roof, and the operators put up camera signs on the highway telling people enforcement is being carried out so it is clear what the cars are doing. We are completely open about this issue - we publish an annual report on parking enforcement which sets out in detail the number of tickets issued, and the reasons why.

According to an official local government statement issued only a few days ago, “Slow economic growth has resulted in less traffic on the roads, easing the pressure on parking spaces which has meant less illegal parking. These tough economic times may mean that drivers decide they cannot afford to risk incurring a penalty charge notice the number of fines is reducing”. Not quite what Bexley claims is it? The same site (via a link at the bottom of their page) says that four boroughs issued fewer penalties than Bexley, not three, which is nit-picking I know, but the real reason for the lowly position is that Bexley is one of the few London boroughs that doesn’t issue penalties for moving traffic offences. That is something that councillor Craske intends to rectify very soon. The reason which he blatantly gave in the cuts document (Strategy 2014) is that it would allow him to get better value for money from the CCTV systems - mobile and fixed. If putting such a statement in a budgetary paper is not an admission that he is doing it to raise money I do not know what is.

Bexley council claims that it makes no money out of parking enforcement, but we know from inspecting their accounts that many of their figures are guessed. £36,000 a year on painting white lines just in Controlled Parking Zones! Show me one that is not in a bad state and I’ll come out and photograph it. “The cars have huge signs on them with huge cameras on them.” I’m not sure how a Smart car can have anything huge about it but when they hide them up side streets it’s all a bit academic. They are effectively not on show at all. Bexley’s annual report on parking used to give all the required detail but when they started making up numbers to justify the price tripling of Residents’ Parking Permits the format had to change to mask their skullduggery. As for the signs they put up; I’ll let Nigel Wise who forced Richmond’s cameras off the road with his thorough knowledge of parking law, have his say…

Legal parking signThere is a very important issue that should be highlighted. Bexley affix signs to lamp posts where they are conducting CCTV enforcement. These signs are put up by the drivers of the Mobile Enforcement Vehicles when they stop at locations. They then remove them when they leave.

The signs that are displayed are not compliant for CCTV Enforcement of Static Parking. They are simply TSRGD 2002 signs to Diagram 879. These signs can only lawfully be used for Moving Traffic Enforcement. They have no function for Static Parking Enforcement.

Furthermore the signs used are simply repeater signs that can only be used after a primary sign to diagram 878 that also states “Traffic Enforcement”. Traffic is not Parking. These signs without the primary signs before them are unlawfully placed on the highway.

The only signs that can be lawfully used for Parking Enforcement by CCTV are signs approved by The Information Commissioners Office. These signs are used by Westminster Council and I enclose an example. This means that Bexley Council are operating their Mobile Enforcement vehicles illegally.

Bexley’s sign is of the central camera logo only - often upside down. No words to explain what is going on. Confusion makes money!

The photograph of a gestapo wagon hiding in a side street while spying on a bus stop and a dropped kerb is by Martin Peaple, the man who Bexley council thought was such a danger to their cash cow that they sent in their friends from Bexleyheath police. Martin had committed no offence. Incidentally, the term ‘MICE car’ is a Bexley invention and is peculiar to this peculiar borough.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that the Channel 5 programme was not about Bexley council, but C5 asked NoToMob for some photos and video to illustrate their report. NoToMob submitted some and C5 chose a photo of Bexley’s car which was seen only briefly. Pure chance, it could so easily have been another council’s. If Bexley council had not responded with their standard set of excuses, I doubt anyone would have associated the piece with them. Now they are on Channel 5’s website - and here too! Well done Bexley council; another own goal.


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