9 February 2014

The Camden High Street cctv midnight parking cowboys

We are lucky in Barnet in that the council never got their act together well enough (or they might have made a policy decision not to do so) to enforce parking restrictions by cctv. They did trial a $camera car last year but didn't find it to be sufficiently profitable so didn't order one. Thus Mr Mustard isn't very experienced at fighting camera issued PCN but he had to have a go as one of his PCN regulars left Barnet for an evening and got snapped. Their car was in the front section of the bay to the left of shot underneath the word "market". It was impossible to tell from photos taken, at midnight at distance, if the driver's side front wheel was perhaps half an inch outside of the different pavoirs which you have to assume is the parking bay. Mr Mustard is of a mind with Eric Pickles MP on this matter and his determination probably showed through in this appeal letter, that or Camden phoned Barnet parking to ask who he was and got told that every single rejected appeal goes to PATAS and Camden decided not to waste £40 in fees as the PCN is now at £nil value on the Camden PCN website.

I represent (redacted) as per the attached authority letter.

I don't usually send copies of parking ticket appeals to Uncle Eric, as he is affectionately known by the Barnet Bloggers of whom I am one (he is of course The Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP and I write the Mr Mustard blog) but given that he is proposing to step in and save us all from the scourge of inappropriate cctv parking enforcement, I thought he might like to see this one and I have permission of the car owner to email him but not for any publicity.

Here is what Uncle Eric said recently:

"We want to rein in these over-zealous and unfair rules on parking enforcement, so it focuses on supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money."

This caused some panic, by the looks of it, although they used the word "concern" at London Councils (they wrote on behalf of every London Borough but three don't use cameras for parking contraventions, namely Barnet, Greenwich and Kensington & Chelsea and well done to them) as their Transport & Environment committee wrote to Eric's colleague, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP on 20 November 13. In their letter London Councils trot out the usual trite nonsense about cctv being mainly used near schools, bus stops and major junctions.

Let's see where are Camden using it. Oh, in Camden High St, at 1 minute past midnight. No school open then is there? no bus stop and not at a major junction. I've just put the postcode of the Hawley Primary School into the Camden council website to find the nearest cctv camera. It's this very one (21C) in Camden High St. Just down the road there is another one. Neither of them can see the school. Is there a camera that can monitor the school? No.

I tried another Camden School at random. I chose Fitzjohn's Primary School, postcode NW3 6NP and the nearest camera is 600m away from where the school isn't visible.

I tried a third one. The Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, postcode N1C 4PF, whose children must be particularly at risk of being involved in an accident with a vehicle. Is there a camera monitoring the school? No, the nearest one is 300m away in Crowndale Rd.

What should your camera operator be looking at for at midnight? I would suggest that violent behaviour (probably following alcohol intake) would be a better use of the resource. Your cameras are identified on your website as being for public safety. Issuing a PCN for trivial or non-existent parking contraventions does not fall under that heading.

Well done anyway. You have provided Eric Pickles MP with the perfect evidential riposte to the London Councils' letter.

Anyway, all of the above is comment to which your reply is not required or desired. Now I'll get to the substance of the representations.


1. The contravention did not occur.

It is impossible to tell from the still photographs or the video evidence if one or more wheels of the vehicle is on the footway or not. Close to where the vehicle was stationary for a short while, note the headlights are still on, is a time plate

which permits parking overnight between the hours of 6.30pm and 8.30am the next morning. The problem comes in defining what area the parking sign relates to as there are no white lines to indicate the extent to which parking is allowed. Perhaps motorists are expected to guess that the area in smaller pavoirs, in the shape of an elongated trapezoid, is the area in which parking is permitted, but guessing should not be the order of the day on the public highway. Motorists are entitled to be clearly informed as to restrictions. There is no evidence that there is a wheel on the footway, in a part where footway parking is not allowed.

2. Is it carriageway or footway?

If the council are going to claim that the surface in the shape of a trapezoid is the carriageway, then I would argue that given that there is a kerb, that it isn't a carriageway, but in any event, unless the council has some sort of exemption from using the relevant markings from the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (please send me a copy if there is such an exemption) there is a failure to properly mark out the parking area.

If the council are going to claim the area of the trapezoid is part of the footway then where are the signs that mark the start and finish of the permitted areas and the white lines to indicate the bay? The footway parking area is not properly signed.

3. Ambiguity

I am a lay person but I believe that ambiguity is normally construed against the causer so Camden Council should not profit from the confusion it has caused at this location and the PCN should be cancelled.

4. Trapezoid parking bay layout not legal?

I have seen only rectangular bays and parallelograms (for parking nose into the kerb at an angle) in the TSRGD 2002. Is this shape of parking bay legally allowed?

5. De minimis

If the council manage to prove where the footway starts and finishes their evidence does not clearly show a wheel on it and even if an adjudicator could work out from the evidence that perhaps the driver side front wheel is outside the trapezoid it can only be for a trivial amount (de minimis) and the law does not concern itself with trifles and so I ask for the PCN to be cancelled on that basis. The London Councils CEO Handbook says at page 54 that no PCN should be issued unless there is clear photographic evidence of an entire wheel outside of the bay.

I look forward to hearing from you that the PCN has been cancelled.

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

c.c. The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP (by email)

(Camden Council would have been sent this letter by email but they don't provide an address to which representations can be made).

Feel free to cut and paste any part of this argument for your PCN appeal at this location or any similar one where the same argument applies.

Mr Mustard thinks it would be hard to find a clearer example than this one, of a council (Camden probably no better or worse than others) using cctv for revenue raising from motorists rather than for crime prevention or detection.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.