Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Traffic fines: H&F exposed

Panorama will tonight expose our Council to bucket loads of shame. Excruciatingly embarrassing documents, obtained by a local campaigner under the Freedom of Information Act, blow our Council's claims to be on the side of the motorist clear out of the water.

"Another record month, guys. Well done" is but one of the exchanges between officials who our Council have confirmed are chasing performance bonuses based on the amount of cash they can extract from drivers caught in notoriously bad junctions. Even a bus company threatened to divert a route away from the Bagleys Lane junction in Fulham, which prompted our Council to demand that they pay for the junction to be changed. So much for public transport.

CCTV, which our Council claims to be all about reducing congestion, is revealed by these documents to have another motivation altogether. Referring to a new CCTV scheme one is simply entitled: "Aim of project: to increase parking revenue (target: additional £5m)". I look forward to seeing how the Council intends to spin that one.

Since I started this blog I have received a steady stream of other examples from readers. This includes, for example, Simon, a local businessman, who was fined £80 for parking his car for five minutes on a Sunday evening in a "loading bay only" space on Gayford Road W12 so he could get something in the shop. 

Contrast that with our Council's behaviour when caught out by its own car-traps. The Telegraph reports that the Mayor, Francis Stainton, has even had a yellow line outside her house suspended so that she can stop her Mayoral car there when getting in and out. Nick Botterill, Leader of the Council, claims that this is "discretion", and that the Mayor is elderly.

Well, Nick, I remember myself witnessing a woman on Davisville Road W12 with a young child fined as she assisted her elderly mother into her house because she could not walk up the steps unaided, having just had a hip operation. All of this took place in full view of the traffic warden, who issued her a ticket anyway as they struggled up the steps. When both she and I asked him why he felt he had to, he just smirked and walked off. 

That seems to be the face of our Council's approach to car owners in this borough. One rule for us, for the rest of you ... just hand over the cash. They fully deserve their forthcoming shower of shame courtesy of the BBC this evening.

1430 UPDATE - Well. the fur is flying. Our Council have called this evening's programme a "hatchet job", with this furious post from Cllr Harry Phibbs implying it is all part of the BBC's questionable impartiality, which is a favourite subject among Conservatives. Not sure how the Daily Mail piece is a lefty conspiracy though.

On the other hand I spoke to Andy Slaughter earlier today, who highlighted a case faced by one of his Bush constituents. She was caught out by a "no right turn" sign from Bloemfontein Road into Bryony Road. Having raised it with the Council it turns out that even they accepted the signage was dodgy so they didn't enforce it for several years. But then they changed their mind and issued almost 3,000, raising around £200,000 by relying on a camera based on signage they have admitted in correspondence which I have seen are inadequate.

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