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News and Comment May 2012

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3 May (Part 3) - Not Strictly Legal

Bexley CCTV carBexley council collects about £2.3m. a year in parking fines but how much of that is from CCTV activity is hard to discover. The council’s website isn’t exactly transparent; a search for Parking Accounts was not helpful. However all the indications are that the actual number of CCTV generated PCNs has been in the region of 200 a week, but this year something seems to have gone seriously wrong.

In the first 12 weeks of the year to March 23rd the total was only 1,155. Closer examination of the numbers shows that in week 5 (beginning 4th February) the number fell to 134 and then the number dropped even more alarmingly. Zero, 12, 15, 21, 13 and 8 for the following six weeks, nearly all for school zig-zag offences. Sixty nine in six weeks; 1,086 in the previous six. Something is definitely amiss.

In February and March NotoMob members reported the spy cars garaged with their cameras covered and staff refusing to discuss the matter. They asked that I did not report it here but when readers more generally began to notice I mentioned the phenomenon.

It is almost certainly a certification issue, Bexley council and their NSL partners don’t give up a source of easy money that readily. Parking Manager Tina Brooks has assured councillors that all is well (see the correspondence with councillor John Davey) but she knows full well that Bexley’s certificate is unlike any other. It’s a worthless piece of paper and the Notomob people made an official complaint to the Audit Commission about the dubious legality of levying fines following use of recording equipment for which no one can produce a valid certificate. The Commission is still deliberating.

Now that Bexley may have resumed normal operations be very very careful. If figures provided by less secretive councils are typical, Bexley will be paying around £8,000 a week for their four cars so six weeks virtually out of action will represent a big loss. They will be on a mission to recoup that revenue and justice is unlikely to be uppermost in their mind.

With acknowledgements to NotoMob and their FOI for the 2012 PCN figures.
Note: When further broken down into days the figures don’t quite add up - they did come from Bexley council after all - but the discrepancies are no more than one or two here and there.


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