No To Mob press release - 23rd April 2012
Today, cabinet members attending a meeting at Hertfordshire's County Hall voted to recommend to the full council that monies illegally derived from unlawful enforcement of the Moor End Road bus lane should be repaid to motorists from whom it was unlawfully taken.
They did not use those exact words, but that is the gist of it.
HISTORY OF ENFORCEMENT AT MOOR END ROAD BUS LANE, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD
CCTV enforcement at the Moor End Road bus lane began in early August 2011. It came to the attention of the No To Mob campaign in early September when stories appeared in the national press claiming that that £20,000 worth of tickets were being issued each day.
Our first attendance was on 10th September 2011 where we successfully persuaded (we hold out signs to warn motorists they are being filmed for the purposes of being issued a PCN - see pictures attached) approximately 600 motorists not to go down the bus lane. On 13th and 30th September 2011 we wrote to, amongst others, the leader of the Council Robert Gordon and the cabinet member for parking, Stuart Pile, and told them of our concerns regarding the enforcement of signs that motorists were simply not able to see. We also confirmed our view that the Traffic Management Order was not enforceable on the eastbound carriageway.
We continued assisting at every available opportunity, and at a conservative estimate we believe we saved approximately 10,500 motorists (an average of 350 per week for 30 weeks) from receiving tickets.
Despite our best efforts, by the end of March 2012 Herts CC had unlawfully issued nearly 35,000 tickets to the value of approximately £2.1m (35,000 x £60).
On 30th March 2012 the Chief Adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (Ms Caroline Sheppard) made a ruling which entirely vindicated the No To Mob. Amongst other things she found:
i.“...there is strong evidence that the signage is neither clear (unless there are over 25,000+ (sic) poorly sighted motorists in Hemel Hempstead) nor is it correct.” and;
ii.The wording of the Traffic Regulation order applied to westbound traffic only and therefore vehicles travelling east did not contravene any traffic order.
THE COST TO HERTFORDSHIRE TAXPAYERS
Because of the nature of the contract entered into by the council and its contractors responsible for enforcement at Moor End Road, the first £22 of each fine is paid directly to the contractor for set up and operational costs.
According to the council, the total PCN payments received to date is £930,000. They also confirm that once payments for set up and operational costs are deducted, the net income to the council is £185,000, leaving the Herts taxpayers to pick up the shortfall of £745,000
In addition, the council estimate that their own admin cost of processing each refund is £11. They estimate their overall admin costs to be in the region of £330,000.
This leaves the Herts taxpayers to pick up a bill of slightly more than £1m for something that could have been stopped one month after enforcement started, if councillors had addressed the No To Mob's concerns.
We would like it noted that if it hadn't been for our efforts, that bill would have been considerably higher. We conservatively estimate that on average we saved approximately 350 unsuspecting motorists a week from receiving PCNs. At our own expense, we assisted the council for 30 weeks which means we stopped approximately 10,500 PCNs being issued.
By the council's own admission it will now cost taxpayers £33 per PCN (£22 for the contractors + £11 refund charges) to rectify the situation, which means that our volunteers have saved the taxpayer from paying a further £346,500.
So far, the council have not thanked us, or recognised our group in any way.
The No To Mob would like the council to answer two questions.
Who is responsible for this debacle, and will anyone be held to account for it?