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article imageThe Great British motoring rip off

By Alexander Baron     Jun 12, 2013 in Environment
In these austere times, some people are going to extreme lengths to make a buck. If a crook picks your pocket, you can phone the police. But what if your local council does it?
Tonight, the BBC screened a special edition of the Panorama programme, the theme of which is the increasing use of the motorist as a cash cow by local councils. According to this programme and a BBC local news report, one junction in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has resulted in fines for 29,000 motorists in the year to March. In case you thought that was some kind of mistake, here it is in plain English:
TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND MOTORISTS have been fined in the FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2013 after being caught by cameras ON THIS ONE JUNCTION. It is little wonder this junction has been Christened the money box by council apparatchiks.
Sadly, the problem is not confined to one London borough or even to the capital, but appears to be a nationwide phenomenon. While this one junction raked in two million pounds in fines, the City of Leicester has collected nearly a million from drivers using bus lanes; Bristol and Reading are likewise making the life of the unsuspecting motorist a misery.
In spite of their denials, it is clear that councils are using traffic cameras not for their designated purposes of keeping the traffic running smoothly, keeping ordinary vehicles out of bus lanes, and so on, but purely as a means of generating revenue. One Hammersmith resident has been fighting back; a Freedom Of Information request by Andrew Ashe led to the release of a number of documents including internal e-mails that showed some council staff bragging about the fines levied, something the council dismissed as office banter. Mr Ashe disagrees, as does the Panorama team; they call it highway robbery.
More about bus lanes, motoring fines, speed cameras
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