I had a sharp exchange of words today with the civilian contractor inside the “Kent Road Safety Partnership” van.
Note where he’s parked at the very edge of the change of speed limit marking the dual carriageway on the Canterbury road outside King Ethelbert’s school in Westgate.
Taking offence at my photographing his activities, he opened-the van door, stopped shooting motorists and challenged me.
I’ll précis the conversation but basically I asked him why he was “shooting” cars as they left the 40Mph zone when guidelines I have read – following the last story on the subject – appear to state that that mobile camera unit should give 250 yards for traffic to slow before photographing them. “There are no guidelines”, he insisted, the moment you enter that 30mph zone, you’re breaking the law and I’ve got you and he waved a handful of photos in my face. At £60 a conviction, I estimated that he was holding about £2,500 of Polaroid photos, all with the offending car, date and speed stamped on them!
“How can you sleep at night?” I asked. It’s after Christmas, Thanet is one of the poorest areas of the country and being fined £60 for not instantaneously slowing from 40 to 30 will really hurt some people. This has nothing to do with law-enforcement, face it you’re just a tax collector and you’re criminalising people for no reasonable purpose. Are you telling me you’ve never exceeded the speed limit?”
“We give them a 20% benefit of the doubt” he told me, as if it justified what he was doing. Meanwhile, several hundred pounds of Birchington-bound revenue had escaped him as we were talking.
Think about it. By the time his wages, his van and equipment have been paid for, a thousand motorists or so have to be caught doing 36 in a 30. Obviously the fixed speed cameras along the Canterbury road between Birchington and Margate aren’t making enough money for Kent police?
Instead of a man in a van, what about a policeman or an extra community warden in the villages. What he was doing today had very little to do with road safety in Thanet and a great deal to do with the state squeezing more money out of you and me at any and every opportunity. Why do we put up with it I wonder?
Is he right and am I wrong? What do you think?