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Aug 08 2013

Parking Tickets, FOI, Training and Incompetence from Harrow Council

harrow_council_logoCast your mind back a few months, and you’ll recall we got nicely involved in FOI requests from Harrow Council. Until they shuttered things and told me I was being ‘vexatious’ for making too many requests. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the Chief Exec got involved, and we soon got that little problem ironed out.

However, I wasn’t the only person suffering from a log jam in the FOI team at the Civic Centre. Another resident, we’ll call him IC because data protection is important, got stung with a £55 penalty charge notice… for stopping at a zebra crossing for all of 13 seconds. And out of those 13 seconds, ten of them were waiting for a pedestrian to cross; the other three seconds were to let a passenger out.

Of course, this is a huge money making machine for the council – cars can no longer drop off outside Harrow and Wealdstone station as it’s licenced taxis (black cabs) only now – as another of our readers will confirm.

So, for stopping for three seconds, clearly, IC felt more than a little miffed. So, he turned to the Freedom of Information Act to get the training records from the council and what other controls there are to ensure the parking rules are applied fairly. The council dragged its feet, adding on days to the 20-day statutory limit because of a public holiday (can’t be sure, as they’ve deleted the request now, but they probably tried to add on five or six days because of a one day public holiday) and then only answering parts of the question, forcing IC to complain to the ICO – a route which often works wonders.

Bad enough, no? Well, the council’s response – including a stack of documents – actually contained IC’s home address, phone number, car registration, email address and the full text of his appeal. Helpfully, they also include the Council’s response:

“This PCN was issued for failing to comply with a sign indicating a restriction on vehicles entering a pedestrian zone. The Highway Code states that it is the responsibility of drivers to make themselves aware of any restrictions that are in force and drive accordingly at all times. There is no provision for members of the public to wait in a pedestrian zone.”

So, on the face of it, Harrow Council appears to be saying that you shouldn’t stop (ie: wait) at a zebra crossing, otherwise they’ll fine you. Lets remember that a pedestrian was about to cross, and IC’s passenger took advantage of that to jump out the car.

Here’s the documents Harrow Council provided. You’ll note that we have redacted them…

ic_pcn_redacted

 

ic_pcn_redacted_2

IC has been given the runaround for the last ten months over this; to be forced to ask for information via the FOI, escalate that into an internal review, and then a complaint to the ICO seems fairly unreasonable to us. And then to publish all his personal details seems to be taking it just another step too far!

 

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2 comments

  1. Peter T

    I’ve been done for a 3 point turn into a residents drive on a road with no parking restrictions and also for stopping on a garage forecourt. The problem is that few have the time or the energy to challenge – it’s just mugging the motorist and the clear evidence for this is outside Rayners Lane station.
    I have lived in Pinner South for the best part of 40 years and in that time I have never, ever seen a taxi parked outside Rayners Lane station.
    Bingo – the council whizz-kids suddenly and sneakily designate road space (near the old Lloyds Bank) in Rayners Lane as a Taxi rank. Co-incidentally this bit of road space has always been conveniently used as a drop-off spot – any further down and you’re “in” the bus stop or blocking the traffic by double-parking.
    In the absence of any warning signs and the quiet installation of a traffic camera, this contrived ‘taxi rank’ must have earned the council a small fortune especially catching Wives and Mum’s dropping and collecting at £55 a pop.
    The effect on residents and their increasingly hostile view of a Council who fleece us as we go about our daily business cannot be under-estimated. And where are the councillors who should be sticking up for us and stopping the Johnny-come-lately officers rampaging into our wallets?
    Is there anyone out there on our side?
    Answers on a postcard please.

  2. j p hobbs

    Well Peter its similar to the Harrow and Wealdstone stealth camera that issued 1700 tickets in the last year making at least £100,000 you can ask for the stats for your favourite camera under the freedom of information order but you may have to be forceful they will try to put you off , if they do just mention it on Facebook adding their email address , it worked for me after waiting a long time . Keep up pressing the buggers you wont have much luck with your councillors , I think most of them have died .

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