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Ealing and Northfield

Council’s £900K box junction cock up

In his rush to make political capital out of yet another cock up by the Council’s transport engineers Councillor Mahfouz has seriously misled the public. Splashed all over the front page of the Gazette this morning was this story: “Drivers to get box junction fines back.” The story goes on to say: “Ealing Council has set aside nearly £35,000 to refund motorists… About 600 people who paid for an ‘offence’ committed before April 30 will get their fine money back.” Their editorial goes on to say: “Ealing Council has pledged to reimburse eligible motorists…”.

This story is woefully incomplete and inaccurate. If you go the council’s website here you will find out that 7,609 tickets were issued for offence code 31J, Entering and stopping in a box junction when prohibited, between July 2009 and April 2010 at the junction in question. These would have been paid at either £60 or £120 depending on how quickly people paid. That is a liability of somewhere between £450,000 and £900,000.

The council’s press release is more carefully worded. It says:

The council will now be cancelling any unpaid tickets from the Otter Road/Greenford Road yellow box junction issued for offences before 30 April – the date the council suspended enforcement at the junction. The council will also refund anyone who received a ticket at that junction, but paid it after 30 April.

In other words only those who didn’t pay for tickets issued before 30 April and those who have had tickets since will get off. Tough luck on the 7,000 that did pay between July 2009 and April 2010.

I am angry that yet again the council’s traffic engineers have made mistakes with this type of junction. For the most part those that have had tickets would have deserved them however much they might grumble about the council’s incompetence. This kind of mistake though further undermines people’s trust in Ealing’s parking people – having spent three years trying to sort them out this is very frustrating for me.

It seems that in his enthusiasm to get his rather warped version of the story into the Gazette, Mahfouz will have opened up the council to a liability of many £100Ks. This is strange behaviour indeed for someone who is meant to be in charge. Mahfouz has not yet got out of the rock throwing habits of opposition. It seems also that the Gazette in its enthusiasm to endorse everything the new Labour administration is doing has lost its ability to ask hard questions. All round very poor.

3 replies on “Council’s £900K box junction cock up”

With regard to the ability of the council highways team to correctly mark, is it not the tri-partite highways structure which causes problems. The council pays the contractor and its consultant for the consultant to ultimately sign off the work for the contractor. Then when things go wrong as they have with regards to box junctions in greenford, southall and elsewhere its the council (parking department) which foots the bill.

Wouldn’t the best thing be to sack the director of highways, after all he presided over cpz and box marking issues, big rises in traffic congestion, and ultimately he is responsible.

Jamie,

It does seem like deja vu all over again to quote Yogi Berra. The last time this happened was November 2008, see here.

However you structure things, they will always go wrong if the people in the structure don’t do their jobs right. Last time around the Director of Street Environment jumped before he was pushed and left the council without any expense to council tax payers. One of his reports went through the disciplinary process and got a black mark against his name. It is not for me to judge if someone should lose their job in this instance but certainly there need to be some hard questions asked. One of the people who need to answer them is Keith Townsend who has presided over streets and parking for many years.

Cllr Mahfouz has made the situation worse by briefing the Gazette first rather than issuing a clear formal statement (which is what I did) so that everyone knows where they stand. The Gazette gives the impression that 7,000 people who got a ticket issued before 30th April and paid would get a refund. This is not the case.

I am not holding my breath in the expectation that the new Labour administration will hold any officers to account.

Isnt this the fault of when the tories were n charge??

also peopel should always appeal fines not pay them..its their own fault

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