Another ‘popular’ segment of
last Thursday’s Places Scrutiny meeting was the
Annual Parking Services report. I know it is popular because whenever BiB
reports on parking and associated injustices inflicted by Bexley Council the
number of web hits more than doubles.
Ben Stephens who heads the joint Bromley/Bexley gestapo unit had decided to absent himself from the meeting but David Bryce-Smith (speaking to microphone below) fielded the questions instead.
The assault on blue badge misuse has been stepped up. It can be reported on 020 8313 4800. Half the 521 appeals to the Adjudicator (ETA) had failed and the Council continues to employ the same bailiffs who have cheated every affected motorist out of various sums of money to such an extent that Bexley Council’s internal auditor referred to their practices as “maladministration” over and over again.
In Bexley, dishonesty and criminal practices go unpunished, presumably because when dealing with a whole den of thieves it is impractical to attack just one for fear he might bring down all the others in retaliation.
The Council extracted £451,000 from motorists in on street parking fees last year, £2,192,000 in on street fines, made a profit of £88,000 and issues more penalty notices than any of its neighbouring boroughs, north and south of the river apart from Bromley which is jointly administered with Bexley.
From August last year, when Bexley Council began attacking motorists on the move, until the end of the financial year in March 2016 it fined 1,372 motorists for minor indiscretions and in the few weeks it has been under CCTV surveillance, the Danson Lane trap has netted nearly 2,000 motorists.
Councillor Brian Bishop said that the Parking Services Report indicated that PCNs could be appealed on line but feedback from electors was that the system didn’t allow it. The details of the offence were there but there was no provision for an appeal. Mr. Bryce-Smith confirmed that that was the case.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) asked about public requests for enforcement of anti-social parking behaviour. Mr. Bryce-Smith said there was “a large number of such requests. Some residents were more persistent which presents a challenge, and they may get more follow up”. I still don’t know how such reports can be made apart from via the cumbersome web form.
Councillor Borella welcomed the introduction of fines for moving traffic offences in principle but was concerned that there now eleven locations being surveyed and asked the Cabinet Member which location was netting the highest number of motorists.
Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer (Conservative, Northumberland Heath) confirmed that the most lucrative site was the yellow box junction at the end of Danson Lane and seemed to be particularly happy that as a he drove through earlier in the day “a lady in a red Honda” was caught out.
Councillor Stefano had researched the current fines (1,879) at that location and contrasted the Council’s current attitude to persecuting motorists with their 2006 election campaign based on the Welling bus lane. Town centres are no longer monitored by CCTV but road junctions are.
Councillor Sawyer said that there was a big difference between the box junction and a bus lane; the former was “short and yellow” and the latter was “red and long”.
He said “the yellow box junction is about safety” (but apparently town centre CCTV is not). “Traffic used to be gridlocked to Crook Log, now it is only gridlocked as far as the football ground”.
“On every issue”, he told Councillor Borella, “you are fundamentally wrong”.
Councillor Gareth Bacon said it was not true that Bexley used PCNs as a revenue raiser. The bus lane had generated a million pounds a year and been cancelled. A million sacrificed to ensure a Tory victory!
Councillor June Slaughter asked if the new parking contract to be awarded in the very near future would be broadly the same as the last one. David Bryce-Smith said the new one (unlike the existing contract) would not incentivise CEOs to issue more tickets. There would be a new pay by phone contractor.
Councillor Linda Smith (UKIP, Blackfen & Lamorbey) spoke up for motorists. “Speed humps, speed cameras, double yellow lines, red lines, red routes, it goes on and on.” It leads to road rage.
She was concerned about unlawful incentivised ticket issuing too. Mr. Bryce-Smith said that would be a thing of the past and repeated that incentives would not be in the new contract.
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) in an obvious response to Councillor Smith ended the discussion with “to say we are persecuting motorists is bonkers”.
Note: A reader informs me (I never went anywhere near the Welling bus lane and wouldn't know) that the bus lane was longer than the regulation that authorised it permitted and the camera overlooked that ‘illegal’ section. The bus lane was therefore unenforceable and appeals on the right grounds had to succeed. It was simplest to remove it before too many people discovered the truth which might have involved the Council in refunds. It sounds plausible, Conservatives turning a mistake to their advantage.