Wednesday, 15 June 2011

CCTV cars and Potholes - Medway

There has been a lot of debate concerning the CCTV smart car fleet that drives around Medway taking pictures of parked cars and getting images of law breakers and prosecuting them  after the event.

The merits of the car fleet are impressive, they are cheaper than traffic wardens and much more mobile, able to cover vast areas faster and even use the telescopic periscope to take pictures from behind hedges and walls etc.

Now policy also dictates that the vehicle should be watched for two minutes before details are taken and passed on, however this is open to interpretation and there have been instances where this has been contested.
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Unlike a traffic warden, the anonymous Car can not be reasoned with!

There are two major issues with this vehicle though.
1:) The CCTV car does not always abide with the traffic laws, and I'm not refering to the Medway Traffic Regulation Order, which allows drivers to park on double yellow lines to photograph offenders, which in my opinion is a fallacy! 

If you are not an Emergency Service or the Military you haven't got the right to break the law.

There have been incidences of the CCTV car driving erratically/dangerously, footage of this has been seen on the Internet including this little nugget which was reported on in the Medway News. There are a few minor infractions but then also incidents that I'm sure a traffic policeman would label as "Dangerous Driving" including hitting the central reservation at the Dockyard!

On 25 May this year I personally witnessed a near miss at the Livingston Arms round- a-bout from the Zebra crossing. The CCTV accelerated to get onto the round-a-bout and sped off without giving way to other vehicles, including some one who was already going round the round-a-bout and almost collided with it!

I have also heard, at a Medway Lib Dem party meeting that the car has been seen parking on double yellow lines outside a bakery so that the drivers could nip inside and get some lunch! This is a definite abuse of power!

Concerning the video, a Council representative told the Medway news on 14th April that the driver was being overly conscious of the motorbikes who were tailing him and swerved.
Now, I Don't drive but it is my understanding that you must be aware of ALL of your surroundings including physical objects such as central reservations and riders or no it is, in the eyes of any traffic police officer, driving without due care. Also what of the Livingston Arms incident?

As for the illiberal use of filming people in their everyday life and the use of footage this is where it gets sticky. I agree that the parking in Medway is atrocious and as a pedestrian it annoys me that I find my pavements blocked especially when I am pushing a buggy or carrying shopping. It also annoys me that my drive way is blocked by people who are nipping to the shops opposite. Traffic wardens cannot be everywhere and so a CCTV car does mean they can cover a larger area.
Also, having worked in CCTV, there are strict procedures of what is done with recorded footage and who gets to see it so the only people who should be worried are the people who have been caught out


What I do not agree with is the use of the telescopic sight to rise up from behind bushes and sneakily take pictures of parked vehicles.

Another concern is the use of the car as a cash cow for the Council. When the first car was deployed they made £200k from 9000 fines in its first year. Now the two cars are making over £1 million a year! What is concerning is that should the council need more money they will just become more vicious and strict. This is not fair. There should be one rule and everyone should be equal under it.

Pot holes and road maintenance.

Medway has some 600 miles of road running through the three towns. It was brought up in the House of commons by Labour Shadow transport minister John Woodcock MP that Medway needed £35 million to be repair extensive damage caused by general wear and as a result of the cold spells.
This figure is disputed by the council who claim that that is a high end figure that would be needed to have all the roads at 100% condition all the time and preventative works. The council has allocated a further £250k for repair work, £500k on highway improvements, there was also a further £500k from the government for road repairs.

However as you can see from these photos taken around Gillingham station this week the road is in desperate need of not only repair but resurfacing.

I invite anyone to walk across the pelican crossing at the side of the station by the Balmoral hotel and not notice that the road is furrowed and humped.
This is no side road but the A231!

As a place running for city status it seems striking to me that the basic infrastructure could be so poor.



In other pictures we also have this on Livingston Road

This at the end of Franklin Road

Finally this shot... This is the pavement outside Baran's Fish and chip shop on Sturdee Avenue near Tesco. It is a serious trip hazard for elderly and residents who aren't as spry on their feet.
Many pavements are a patchwork of scarring and damage caused by poor maintenance and roadworks.

What I'm asking the council is this:
Why spend millions of pounds on a Bus station we don't really need, or on a bid for city status that not everyone in the towns wants when the money could be more wisely spent in improving the towns and the basic improvements that we the citizenry want and deserve?

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