Author Topic: Eric Pickles slams council's use of 'cash cow' CCTV vans on visit to Bedford  (Read 1460 times)

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Offline Web Admin

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Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles slams council's use of 'cash cow' CCTV vans on visit to Bedford

COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles visited Bedford this morning to see how local businesses are being affected by council CCTV 'spy' cars catching out their customers.

Mr Pickles visited Kay's Chemist and Golden Chicken Barbeque in Bromham Road and Homelink estate agents in Midland Road, both prime areas where Bedford Borough Council's CCTV vehicles go prowling for fines.

The Secretary of State, who has spoken out on this issue several times over the last year, referring to the vans as 'cash cows', criticised the Borough Council for using them to catch out drivers rather than using them to enforce danger hot spots.

In an exclusive interview with BoS, he said: "They seem to have made a bad decision in purchasing these vans and what we've got is an almost ludicrous situation where they are going around fining people in order to pay for their vans and they even lost money on them last year and now frankly what they should do is get rid of one.

"I don't mind the use of camera vans if they concentrate on dangerous places but if they are just being used to raise money there is something seriously wrong."

In April this newspaper revealed that over the last few years, camera cars across the county raked in more than £1m from motorists, and £303,488 of that was in Bedford Borough.

Yet in the borough alone, the two cars cost £377 a day to keep on the road.

Mr Pickles said: "The mayor and the council should own up and say they got it wrong and get rid of the van and concentrate on what they were designed to do which is to make places safe."

When we told the MP one of the council's new cars had recently been caught out itself parking in a disabled bay on several occasions without a badge, he said: "What a shocker. All they're really doing is reinforcing a bad mistake, they're effectively saying we didn't make a mistake and to prove it we're buying a new van but these vans are designed to be put in places where there is risk of an accident not there to raise money for the council."

Issuing a stern warning to the authority, he added: "Stop looking for places for these cameras to go in order to make money and look for places where there are dangers."

He added that the outcome of a Government consultation, held at the end of last year into whether CCTV vehicles would be banned nationwide, would be announced 'very soon'.

MP for Bedford and Kempston, Richard Fuller, who joined Mr Pickles on the visit, said: "The council's current policy of going around penalising people for stopping, rather than focusing on where there are dangers, is harming small businesses."



http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/News/Local-Government-Secretary-Eric-Pickles-slams-councils-use-of-cash-cow-CCTV-vans-on-visit-to-Bedford-20140612143555.htm



Offline Coco

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It is hard to challenge Eric Pickles' view on the spy cars. Councils should be concentrating on outcomes not income. By this I mean a justifiable outcome of fewer RTCs with fewer persons injured at genuine danger blackspots rather than increased income from penalties issued at confusing or misleading honey (s)pots.

Offline DastardlyDick

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I agree with Mr Pickles' comments, but he does seem to be dragging his feet on this issue since he originally said last year he'd outlaw theses practices "by Easter". Easter has come and gone (I concede he didn't actually say Easter 2014, but that was certainly the implication) and councils are continuing their dubious practices with some buying more $cars to increase their income even more.

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Having heard Robert Goodwill's (DfT) speech at Parkex, and after hearing the continued threats coming from Eric Pickles (DCLG), I am of the firm opinion that what we are seeing is a lot of political infighting here whereby the DfT have the power but not the will to ban all cctv for parking, whereas the DCLG has the will but not the power.

Goodwill has swallowed every dodgy statistic the industry has thrown at him, including relying on figures from his own department concerning future road usage in this country that have been entirely discredited by the select committee. How can you base a whole strategy based on what the DfT have admitted are flawed figures?

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21. The DfT stated to POST that the NTM takes into account "a wide range of explanatory factors for the level of road traffic, including congestion levels, demographic changes, manufacturing growth, as well as availability and cost of alternative modes of transport."[44] However, the DfT admitted to us recently that the NTM has failed to predict changes in traffic levels in London.[45] We heard concerns that the DfT does not make available the assumptions and methodologies underpinning the NTM in sufficient detail to enable a thorough and independent assessment to be undertaken.[46] By contrast, HM Treasury and the Office of Budget Responsibility are committed to making their macroeconomic forecasts and methods as transparent as possible.[47] The DfT must immediately open the NTM to wider scrutiny, as the Treasury and the OBR have done with their macroeconomic model, to ensure that it accords due weight to all factors affecting transport demand, including economic growth, industrial development, fuel prices, vehicle ownership and demographic shifts.



http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/850/85005.htm#a4
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Offline The Bald Eagle

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To put my above post into context, and more importantly to show that unlike the BPA Ltd we don't take one line from a quote and spin it for our own propoganda purposes, I now highlight why the select committee have demanded that the DfT publish their methodology on predicting traffic growth, and why they recommend changes to the DfT's current methods of planning transport strategy.

It demonstrates quite clearly that despite using the same methods of prediction for over 20 years, the DfT have consistently got it wrong yet persist with failed formulae nonetheless


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2  Demand

18. The DfT uses the National Transport Model (NTM) to predict future traffic levels on the road network. The NTM provides information to build the business case behind strategic road schemes. The validity of the NTM's outputs and how or whether they should be used in planning changes to the SRN are a matter of great contention between supporters and opponents of increasing capacity on our road network.

Demand modelling

19. The NTM indicates that traffic levels will rise by 46% by 2040, as a result of population growth, economic growth and a fall in the cost of fuel. The model shows congestion on the road network increasing dramatically if no capacity is added to it.[38] The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) told us that the forecasts were "generally convincing".[39] The AA added that it did not "dispute the figures, because they are the best shot; I do not think they will ever be bang on, but they have not been far off."[40]

20. Critics of the policies in Action for roads rejected or questioned the outcomes of the forecasts. The Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) felt that cycling was under-represented:

We gave a specific example of how we feel the national transport model is pretty flawed, in that at the moment it is forecasting a drop in cycling between now and 2035, despite the fact that cycling has increased by 23% in the last five or six years and is clearly on an upward trajectory. We think the model is a blunt tool; it is using very unsophisticated ways of dealing with technological and social change, which is a lot of what is driving the changes in transport at the moment.[41]

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) noted that the DfT's model had overestimated traffic growth in 1989, 1997 and 2009.[42] It argued that those overestimates had restricted economic development:

We would argue that the Department for Transport has been overestimating traffic growth for 20 years. That gives artificial barriers to development and the transport infrastructure that goes with it, because the argument [to a developer] is, "There will be all this traffic growth [from your development], and you have to meet that"… The forecasts and modelling that it is required that local authorities and developers take up are based on flimsy foundations.[43]

21. The DfT stated to POST that the NTM takes into account "a wide range of explanatory factors for the level of road traffic, including congestion levels, demographic changes, manufacturing growth, as well as availability and cost of alternative modes of transport."[44] However, the DfT admitted to us recently that the NTM has failed to predict changes in traffic levels in London.[45] We heard concerns that the DfT does not make available the assumptions and methodologies underpinning the NTM in sufficient detail to enable a thorough and independent assessment to be undertaken.[46] By contrast, HM Treasury and the Office of Budget Responsibility are committed to making their macroeconomic forecasts and methods as transparent as possible.[47]The DfT must immediately open the NTM to wider scrutiny, as the Treasury and the OBR have done with their macroeconomic model, to ensure that it accords due weight to all factors affecting transport demand, including economic growth, industrial development, fuel prices, vehicle ownership and demographic shifts.

Traffic volume

22. Traffic volume on strategic roads peaked in 2006, fell between 2007 and 2010 and started slowly to increase again in 2011.[48] That is important evidence in the debate between those who argue that the level of traffic has now peaked and those who support the DfT's analysis that traffic volume decreased as a result of the recession and began to increase again as the economy recovered. One argument against 'peak car' is the suggestion that traffic volume fell as a consequence of both the recession and the increased cost of fuel.[49] The newly published data show traffic volume falling before the recession started in 2008, which decouples the recession from the decline in road traffic volume.[50] This fall in traffic volume also contrasts with the number of rail journeys, which rose consistently per year throughout the recession, despite rail fares increasing more quickly than fuel prices.[51]

23. We heard that guidance on planning and parking charges, such as that in Planning Policy Guidance 13 (PPG13), is another factor that influences the volume of road traffic.[52]The PPG13 transport guidance was introduced in 2001. It was developed as part of A New Deal for Transport. On planning, it promoted development in urban, brownfield sites and discouraged greenfield developments that were only accessible by motor vehicle.[53] On parking, it required local authorities to set charges to encourage the use of other forms of transport.[54] Under PPG 13, the NTM road traffic forecasts are based on population projections from the Office of National Statistics in 2008. Those projections state that they "do not take into account any future policy changes that have not yet occurred".[55]

24. The Department for Communities and Local Government withdrew PPG13 in 2011, as part of a simplification of planning rules.[56] This recent change in planning and parking policy may well have influenced traffic growth, both from new greenfield housing developments and because driving into towns has become less expensive.[57]

25. Many witnesses to our inquiry discussed the limitations of the DfT forecasts.[58] POST stated:

The DfT's forecasts assume no change in Government policy beyond that already announced. However, researchers have stressed that car use will be shaped by future policies around land use planning and measures to reduce driving, including the viability of alternative modes of transport.[59]

Oxera also noted that the NTM does not account for changes in the availability of parking:

A potential weakness of the NTM is that it does not factor in constraints on the availability of parking spaces. Decisions on whether to make a car journey are likely to be heavily influenced by the ability to park at a destination. Consequently, better understanding is needed of how the availability of parking spaces will affect future road demand.[60]

Given that it is impossible accurately to predict local and national planning policy, demographics, types of industry and the extent to which people will want to live in urban areas, a road strategy based on forecast future growth in traffic seems questionable.[61]

26. The DfT argued that its forecasting was credible. It stated that past failures to predict the level of traffic growth were the result of events that could not have been predicted by the model:

…uncertainty is inherently part of forecasting and predicting future behaviour and trends. Traffic trends and outcomes depend on a large number of variables, economic (GDP, oil prices) and behavioural.[62]

The Minister defended the NTM and its use in strategic roads policy development:

The forecast is one that I am prepared to defend, but it is dependent on some factors that are more difficult to predict. It would be irresponsible of any Government not to use these figures, which are the best, and the National Transport Model, which is designed to forecast long-term trends.[63]

27. The DfT must develop a transparent system of road planning as part of a wider national transport strategy. This system should take into account demographic, economic and land use changes, including changes in the location of homes and parking policy. This will allow the DfT to select the most resilient options for reducing congestion or improving connectivity and to promote them across Government Departments and local authorities.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/850/85005.htm#a4

Also

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/850/85002.htm
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