Friday, January 05, 2007

Speed Partnership

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?


Anonymous said...

Good work for challenging him! As you say its got nothing to do with road safety, its all about taking more money from us wherever possible. I'd rather his time had been allocated to night patrols in Birchington to act as a deterrent to the vandalism that happens to peoples cars, and even the Church; that wont happen though because there is no financial incentive.

Anonymous said...

B@st@rd$ !!!

Presumably he is just doing a job but at what point does a job become more than a job. Is this man a colaborator in a state witch hunt, that one day will be recognised as aiding and abetting some immoral crusade on the part of the Treasury this seems to be the consensus particularly by those just caught out by such underhand methods.

Bite the bullet and pay the fine when you receive it. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

The harsh reality (that one which gets you in the stomach)is I suppose if you are doing 36 in 30 you're in the wrong. I know it hurts doesn't it? I think it wrong to penalize people where a speed limit changes down without too much warning. I don't think the fellah ought to be expected to answer the question regarding his night-time sleeping patterns...though that made me laugh, did you really ask that? Quite funny. As for photographing him and his attitude over that, that sir is too bad, he has been photographing others. Don't get mad Dr. M get even. You should have grabbed the poleroids and run like hell! I'm going to photograph the guy next and I suggest others do. Lets p*** him off a bit.

Hog's view said...

Surely its time for the motorist to fight back !. The motorist is simply regarded as a cash cow, why can't the government plug a few leaks rather than keep grabbing more of our hard earned cash ?. In the US they have successful "gas out" days when folks get together and boycotts a brand of petrol increases its prices, what can we do here ?, and oh yes, what is all
this revenue spent on ? i could go on.......

Nocturnal Pedestrian said...

What a great item, Dr Moores! Reporting at its best! I have an ambivalent attitude to speeding issues. On the one hand, this operator is clearly revenue hunting as this stretch of road normally sees traffic reducing speed as it enters the 30mph limit; on the other hand speeding has been the major cause of most fatalaties of young people on Thanet roads in the past few years.
As I walked home from the Swan to home in Cliftonville at midnight last night it was interesting to see cars driven by mainly young people travelling at speeds well in excess of 50mph between the fixed cameras between Westgate and Margate on the Canterbury Road.

Another issue that annoyed me immensely was the number of cars illegally parked on double yellow lines on Marine Terrace. I am currently fighting a £60 penalty notice for failing to display a ticket in Cecil Square in November when the ticket machine was not accepting money.
TDC is responsible for parking issues and the same mentality as your speeding operative seems at work; don't target the real problem of the mainly young anti-social drivers who demonstrate an utter disregard for the law but take the easy option of mass revenue raising.

Anonymous said...

Right or wrong you're right as a far as I am concerned.
Photograph him every time you see him there , let him feel unwelcome in that position,he will move on.
Its called aversion therapy.
Another good thing to do is to get people to frequently cross the road where he is photographing, slows down the traffic.
What you can't do legally is interfere by signalling to motorists.
The last poster was talking about the US - I am there at the moment and gas (petrol) prices are falling as oil has got much cheaper. Thats 30p per litre. Thank goodness as my pickup truck takes 150 litres and thats a week usually.
Thanetlife is my way of keeping in touch with home over the long hot winters here, 5am and 73 degrees right now!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was on the same stretch of road. I was doing 30mph as I approached him as I had been warned by a 'flash' of headlights by someone coming the other way having passed the van. What we need is for the drivers to co-operate with each other and warn those going into these zones that the camera is active. I flashed at least 10 cars on the way home to warn them and I would like to thank the one who warned me as I was just coming out of the 40 going into the 30 and would have been caught. Drivers need to stick together on this issue and I am so pleased that Dr. Moores had the guts to challenge him. Great photograph !

DrMoores said...

The rules for speed camera placement
Here are some of the rules governing the placement of speed cameras:

At least 4 KSI per km in last three calendar years (not per annum)
At least 8 PIA per km in last three calendar years
Causation factors indicate that speeding was a contributory factor in some or all of the accidents – sites that are clearly not speed-related have been de-selected
85th percentile speed at least 10% above speed limit plus 2mph - i.e. 35mph in a 30 zone) for free-flowing traffic (excluding any rush-hour periods)
At least 20% of drivers are exceeding the speed limit
The last three apply to both fixed and mobile speed camera sites. It's the rule shown in yellow that causes the trouble.
These rules have been pasted direct from the DfT's "report of the two year pilot". (Appendix A) (DfT link to same report)

KSI means "killed or seriously injured"
PIA means "personal injury accident"

Steamhammer said...

Well done Dr M. I think this highlights perfectly the futility of what the man in the van is doing towards road safety. I am all in favour of anything that will genuinely save lives and injuries but this clearly is not the answer. I bet he is causing a hell of a lot more misery than he is preventing. If people do not want this type of "policing" then the powers that be should take note - after all , is it not us who pays for it all ? (thats taxpayers and motorists). If only solving and preventing crime was as easy as bullying makes me sick.

Mr Friday said...

Are you allowed to stand around in front of the van as they are trying to photograph people or park right in front of them ?

DrMoores said...

That's a good question. If it were a police officer one might be thought to be obstructing him in his duties but this was a civilian and anyway, you are perfectly entitled to park where you like and in this sad example of a police state, the closer to his camera the better in my opinion!

Mr Friday said...

It was your comment about him being a civilian contractor which made me think of that. If it were a police officer I'm sure it would be an offence but am not sure whether the same applies to people acting on their behalf.

I'm off that way shortly so I'll look out for the van !!

Anonymous said...

Whilst the position of the contractor was obviously not about law enforcement I would suggest there is a problem with many motorists in the area not observing the 30 speed limit. The only thing that seems to slow traffic when there are not cameras is congestion. Where there is a open road the norm appears to start at 40mph. An example is Westbrook Avenue where speeds between 40 and 60 mph are commonplace. However the contactor rarely places his vehicle in this or other roads where there is a problem and where speeding motorists should be controlled but instead chooses for example Shottendane Road where not withstanding the sad death of PC Odell there would not appear to be a problem. We all break the motoring laws sometimes but perhaps the motorists in Thanet who speed regularly should perhaps reflect that the 30 mph in urban areas was adopted to protect the pedestrian

Anonymous said...

Nice work Dr.Moores keep the clown on his toes. Clearly this is more a revenue gathering exercise than an attempt to improve road safety. I take Steamhammers point above about this type of policing, and perhaps if the Chief Constable were elected as happens in the US he or she would be directly accountable to the local population.

Now we read that criminals are no longer being prosecuted for shoplifting, criminal damage etc. instead the police give them a fixed penalty. If they pay up they don't get a criminal record either. Is it just me or is Britain going to hell in a handcart?