Costs rise in Westminster’s CCTV fiasco

Banksy in Westminster

Banksy in Westminster

Since April 2009 Westminster Council have been unable to use it’s vast £15 million CCTV network for parking enforcement, because they did not comply with the DfT’s Traffic Management Act 2006.

This was despite the Department for Transport advising councils of the new specification as far back as August 2007. But Westminster Councillor Danny Chalkley failed to act, resulting in the cameras requiring an expensive upgrade costing around £850,000. When the DfT’s traffic Management Act, came into force on April 1st 2009 Councillor Chalkley said “The DfT’s position is ludicrous and stuck in the dark ages”, which was possibly not the best way to win any friends over at the DfT.

In a bizarre reply to a question by Tom Edwards the BBC’s Transport Correspondent in March 2009 , Councillor Chalkley said “It’s a really bad news story for the motorist who wants to be able to drive around Westminster freely“.

Yet those motorists are better off to the tune of £6 million according to a recent council scrutiny committee report (download here), so do motorists need CCTV at all?

The council’s Chief Executive Mike More stated in the January 2010 report “City Council’s cameras did not receive the necessary device approval from the Vehicle Certification Agency by 31 March 2009 and as a result they have not been available for static parking enforcement. Despite upgrading the camera network and resubmitting the application to the VCA, we have still not received approval.” “Non-availability of CCTV has contributed £6m to the in year deficit.” Perhaps the approval delay is because the Government didn’t take kindly to being called ludicrous by the diminutive Councillor Chalkley, or is that Government guidance for the use of parking enforcement by CCTV is this:

It is recommended by the secretary of state that enforcement by approved devices[such as CCTV] are used [for parking enforcement] only where enforcement is difficult or sensitive AND civil enforcement officer enforcement is not practical.”

Who would have thought that streets such as Regent Street were such a no go area for NSL’s parking wardens.

This really seems to be shaping up for another very bad year for Westminster Council, as only last week we described how the MET Police are studying a complaint into fraud and gross misconduct in public office against two of the Councils most senior officers. This complaint centres around the handling of the contract between the Council and their enforcement contractors NSL Services (formally known as NCP Services).

In an amazing bit of bad timing Nutsville’s man on the doorstep tells us that NCP Services Director and legal contact Damian Byrnes has scarpered off to Australia for good. Surely it can’t be true that someone as vital to any police investigation as Damian was last seen running into the Australian outback, can it?

Collin Barrow

Collin Barrow

If this is to be how the dice are going to fall in Westminster there can be no excuses from senior officials such as Mike More, who campaigners say have been warned months ago about their concerns.

Nutsville’s readers are invited to pull up a comfy chair to watch if any pirates in parking jump overboard or go down with the ship. No doubt the ‘do nothing’ Captain Pugwash of council leaders, Collin Barrow will be resolutely saluting from the poop deck as the ship descends into a cold sea of scandal.

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4 Comments

RichardFebruary 22nd, 2010 at 12:42 pm

When I was a proffessional driver and having to do deliveries in and around SoHo, I didn’t really notice any difference in the level of congestion before/after these cameras were installed. What I *did* notice was a sharp fall in the speed of NSLs parking mafia to give you a PCN for actually having the sheer audacity to make a delivery to a Business in Westminster. As I said to one of these goons ‘ it’s no wonder that only prossies can make any money round here ‘cos you b*****ds give a ticket even when you can plainly see that loading/unloading is going on’. Could it be that WCC are/were using the cameras (which they claimed were ‘to make the streets safer for residents’) to direct their CEOs?

Richard HollyoakFebruary 22nd, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I like the way Chalkley twitches his head at the end of a question and nods in agreement – not with the question but nodding because he realises he has a match for an answer he has rehearsed for the question just asked!

Big DaveMarch 8th, 2010 at 11:59 am

“The law within which we are working doesn’t cater for digital networks”

NO! the law says you need to use the correct MINIMUM resolution as TFL told you PRIOR to you signing off on this kit. As usual Danny Chalkley & chums felt they were above the law though and pressed on anyway only to be pulled up by the short and curlys.

Back when it happened I’d have told you to get used to the feeling though as their is a storm coming that will make the TFL backlash seem like a walk in the park. Case now is the storm is here & there are currently 5 authorities investigating your actions & those of your associates as a result of the way the parking department has conducted itself, not to mention facing a court case that has been brought by members of the public.

Not to worry though, their will only be a short lived resistance to the scheme which will quickly fade away…

[...] Today Westminster Council were able to switch-on around 120 CCTV cameras used to issue parking tickets, box junction fines and other motoring fines. The cameras have been undergoing a major upgrade, during which time the council claim to have lost around £6 million in revenue (view details here). [...]

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