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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Appeal for Information on Yellow Box Fines from Councillor Alan Stanton

Sometime between December 2005 and May 2006 were you fined for stopping your car in the yellow criss-cross boxes painted outside the Arriva Bus Garage in Philip Lane? If not, maybe a family member or friend got a fine there?

If you're unsure, you can view photos of this stretch of roadway on my Flickr pages at:
flickr 1
flickr 2
flickr 3
Of course the yellow boxes were painted for a practical purpose - other than simply raising money for the Council. They let buses in and out of the Arriva Garage.

Unfortunately, with other vehicles often cutting-in; and traffic lights changing quickly, even the most careful drivers sometimes found themselves getting stuck in the yellow-box. And getting stuck with a fine.

In May 2006 it turned out that these boxes did not comply with Department for Transport regulations. So the cameras were removed and Haringey stopped enforcing the boxes.

Anyone who received and paid a fine at this location should contact Haringey Parking Service and request a refund. And I'd like to hear from anyone who is refused.

Alan Stanton
Councillor Tottenham Hale Ward

Tags for Forum Posts: parking penalties, penalty charge notices, yellow box junction

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Phew! I got caught out with that box grid recently because someone sped up to cut in front on me, leaving yellow boxed. Nice to know that's one less fine. One never knows when these things are going to pop up in the post.
Thanks Matt. That's one sort of Catch-22 problem I've heard about. Drive considerately and safely and your reward may be to get blocked-in and fined. That includes people caught in the notorious box junction near Sainsbury's, Green Lanes.

But these days, local councils and Transport for London aren't the only ones with cameras. How about a sequence of stills (on Harringayonline or Flickr) to highlight this type of problem? And there's YouTube. For something straightforward, even a point-and-click digital camera in video mode could be okay. Or perhaps some talented professional camera-person living in Harringay would donate time and bring their equipment ?

Here's an example of what's possible using widely available equipment and YouTube to protest against dangerous speeding cars in Central Park, New York.
HarringayOnline members may remember my post about the 3,746 traffic fines wrongly issued by the Council in Philip Lane N15. These were for unauthorised yellow junction boxes outside Tottenham Bus Garage. I’m still waiting for full details. But my estimate is that eventually more than 2000 people paid a total exceeding £100k - and they haven’t had their money back!

I posted information about it on my Flickr pages. People have since contacted me about other dubious yellow lines and yellow box junctions.

In Green Lanes there were at least two appeals to the independent Traffic Adjudicator about one box junction. Haringey lost both cases as the Adjudicators said the junction marking did not comply with the Traffic Signs Regulations. The first case was Poulton v Haringey (PATAS 2070119729) in May 2007. The second was Gavriel v Haringey (- PATAS 2080034892 - HY73349913). The successful appeal in the Gavriel case was 19 March 2008; the alleged contravention was on 4 October 2007.

I’ve asked questions about this – including which junction box it was. (Unfortunately the case is reported only as “Green Lanes”.) So far it has taken Haringey Urban Environment Department two weeks not to provide this very simple and straightforward information. (Though on Friday afternoon 4 May, I was assured I would be getting a full response to all my questions “imminently”.)

I’m hoping members of HarringayOnline can help me. In particular I’m interested to hear from anyone who successfully appealed against a fine for a yellow junction box in Green Lanes, or had one cancelled. Has anyone seen these junction boxes being repainted? If so, which ones and when?

When I’m eventually told which box (or boxes?) do – or did not - comply with regulations, I will post the information on both my Flickr pages and here. Some people may have a case for getting their money back – especially, it seems to me, if the fine was issued between the two successful appeal cases.

I’d also like to know if Haringey sends people the location details about a junction box where a contravention has taken place. I’m told that some fines say only: “Green Lanes”. This would hardly be reasonable if it meant drivers had to remember what happened on a journey through every junction box in a busy road like Green Lanes. Nor could they visit a specific box to check if it was correctly marked on the road.

Just to make things clear: I’m not anti controls. I accept a need for speed limits, traffic lights, bus lanes, junction boxes etc. (Removing the whole lot may work in rural Holland or Sweden, but Haringey traffic is already scary enough!) But all such controls should be enforced fairly and transparently. Above all, the aim should be compliance – not taxation. Traffic controls, CPZs etc are actually failing if they generate enormous income from fines. Success should be measured by how close we get to zero accidents; no vehicles blocking bus lanes; smoothly flowing traffic; and parking at reasonable cost.

Alan Stanton (Tottenham Hale Ward councillor)
This is a further follow-up to my appeal for information about fines for yellow junction boxes along Green Lanes.

It follows-on from work Cllr Ray Dodds and I have been doing to uncover the scandal of the 2,627 fines levied on unauthorised yellow boxes in Philip Lane N15. Ray and I are gradually getting to the bottom of this and other parking fine irregularities by the Council. Only gradually and slowly though, because we've had to use Freedom of Information Act (F.o.I.) requests to really squeeze out the information. Anyone who wants more detail is welcome to contact me (alan.stanton[AT]virgin.net) or look at my photoblog pages on Flickr.

Now there's excellent news that Eddie Mair tackled the issue on Radio 4 yesterday! (17 May - BBC Radio 4 IPM). I can't take any credit, as I was unaware of the programme before someone phoned me. Haringey didn't figure.

You can hear it using the BBC's "Listen again" facility on its website. Or download a podcast.

The programme investigated complaints about yellow boxes in Waltham Forest. The Council there seems to have backed-down and agreed to repay motorists who were wrongly fined. Eddie Mair's interviewees included Lord Lucas, a Tory Peer who is taking-up the issue; and Oliver Mishcon a barrister specialising in traffic law, who was quite clear about the legal position.

It was especially encouraging to hear other people put the same arguments which Ray Dodds and I have been making, since we uncovered the facts about the Philip Lane junction boxes and began asking about the Green Lane boxes. In our view, the most serious damage done by this type of local authority sharp practice is the damage to residents' trust and confidence in local councils behaving properly and decently and sticking to the law. We've also strongly against the use and reliance on these fines mainly for income generation.

It appears from the F.o.I. answers that for nearly two years, Cllr Haley - nominally the "cabinet" councillor in charge - was kept in the dark about the problem by council officers. Ray Dodds raised it with officers and Cllr Haley in February this year. (Which coincided with an unsuccessful attempt by officers to get authorisation for the Philip Lane yellow boxes from the Department for Transport.)

I have no idea of Cllr Haley's views about this issue, since he has not answered any of my emails. However, I'm told that my questions led to a threat by another councillor "to rip my head off". Plainly some Labour councillors haven't a clue about real Scrutiny. Nor of the role of councillors in advocating for local people; asking legitimate questions; and speaking truth to power.
Alan, your comments about the councillors attitude to this are shocking but not I fear surprising. They simply do not seem to want to respond to residents' legitimate concerns about things. I have had no responses (save one from Karen A) regarding my concerns over street cleanliness and flytipping despite emailing all the Harringay councillors, Brian Haley and Niall Boulger. (Dasos Maliotis ALWAYS responds). That they should treat councillors in this cavalier fashion too is truly disgraceful. On the councils own website of a councillors role, it says (my italics)

Councillors also champion local issues. They can help if you are dissatisfied with a council service by advising or directing you to someone who can help sort out your problem and can sometimes progress the case on your behalf. This is often done in advice surgeries where you can meet with the councillor for your ward and discuss your problem.

As community leaders they put forward proposals to improve their ward, which may include bringing together different community groups to develop a case for change.

I see little evidence of this committment to the residents among those councillors who have 'cabinet ' roles that I have tried to contact so far. A simple response to queries would be a polite and reasonable place to start, in all the communications I have attempted only one cabinet member, Lorna Reith, has ever had the courtesy to write back.
All of which reminds me of something Hugh wrote about lack of communication with local councillors.
As a postscript to the discussion above, HoL members may be interested in a Freedom of Information request by Christopher Turner, posted in May 2010 on WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Mr Turner was fined by Haringey for entering a yellow box junction in "Green Lanes". He pointed out to the Parking Service that three years ago a Parking Adjudicator ruled that councils must tell a driver where a contravention occurred. So 'at the junction of Green Lanes and street X' - would be okay. But not just 'in Green Lanes' which is a long road with lots of yellow junction boxes.

I was told in May 2009 that this problem had been "due to our IT system". And they'd "put this right". But it seems from Mr Turner that errors may still occur. So if someone gets a ticket, it's worth checking.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor.)
6 July 2010 Update on Chris Turner’s battle with Haringey Parking Service.
With a further request for help from HoL members.

As I reported above, Chris Turner posted on the website WhatDoTheyKnow.com about his efforts to get Haringey Parking Service to follow the rules when giving PCNs (fines) to motorists who enter a yellow junction box when the exit isn’t clear.

As Mr Turner pointed out, the particular rule was highlighted by Martin Wood, Chief Parking Adjudicator in the Joint Annual Report of the Parking Adjudicators 2006-2007. Mr Wood referred to a specific case (Adamou) in Green Lanes and wrote that Haringey is required to tell drivers where "an alleged contravention . . . was said to have occurred". Therefore: "No valid PCN was served on Mrs Adamou, and so the Council could not enforce the penalty".

After six months, Chris Turner still hasn't heard which junction box they mean. He didn’t get the original notice – despite asking for it as part of an F.o.I. request. The Charge Certificate he did get only says: “In Green Lanes”.

In May 2008 (*) I was assured that an error like this was due to a problem with Haringey’s IT system. And: “we have put this right”.

Yesterday (6 July 2010) I was told this wasn’t quite the case. Because Haringey:
“. . . have since updated our IT system (from analogue to digital recording of contraventions) and it would that this particular function was not fully activated at changeover and as a consequence it is likely that some Penalty Notices have been issued without the specific location being detailed. We therefore made further changes to our IT system to ensure all relevant notices comply with the principles of the Adamou case.”

I hope they do. But if HoL members get a fine for entering a yellow box, please check if there’s an error. And let us all know.
________________________________
(* Apologies for the wrong date in my previous post. The correct date was 9 May 2008).
22 July 2010 - Yet another postscript to this wholly unnecessary saga..

I thought that I'd clarified the situation. That when issuing a ticket (PCN) for yellow-box junctions, Haringey Parking Service should give the specific location.

So I was dismayed to get an email from the Parking Service apparently back-tracking. They said this was not statutory. And while:
" . . . the inclusion of this information is of benefit to motorists. However whilst this is useful, it does not help those motorists who are less familiar with the local area and also do not know of junction intersections."

They suggested that motorists could view the CCTV footage; and also that :
"drivers are in the vast majority of instances able to recount where they were by a process of elimination."

I don't agree and have sent the email below to Niall Bolger, Director of Urban Environment.

----- Original Message -----
From : Alan Stanton, Tottenham Hale ward councillor
To : Niall Bolger
Cc : Council Leader and Cabinet members; Christopher Turner; Martin Wood, Chief Parking Adjudicator PATAS (Parking & Traffic Appeals Service)
Sent : Wednesday, July 21, 2010 7:22 PM
Subject : Possibility that Haringey is still issuing PCNs for yellow junction boxes without specifying the location.

Dear Mr Bolger,

It appears [... ] that the Parking Service is continuing to issue PCNs for yellow junction box 'offences' in Green Lanes which describe the location simply as "in Green Lanes".

I do not criticise [the officer concerned] as I am sure he is doing his utmost to present the Parking Service's practice in the best possible light. However, as you would imagine, I do not accept his view that while this information: "is useful, it does not help those motorists who are less familiar with the local area and also do not know of junction intersections".

It is, for example, open to a driver to visit and check a particular junction to see if the lines and signs are compliant.

Nor do I accept that it is sufficient for motorists to be able "to recount where they were by a process of elimination".

He previously assured me that the Parking Service had "responded positively to the Adjudicator's decision". However, I do not see how issuing PCNs which do not comply with the Chief Adjudicator's view can be described as positive.

Above all, the point is not what I accept or think, but what Martin Wood, Chief Parking Adjudicator wrote in his Annual Report 2006-2007. While - as [the officer concerned] points out - PATAS decisions are not "statutory", the PATAS system is the one we as a local authority have agreed to abide by. And it is important if we are to show we are acting reasonably and in good faith.

Can I therefore please request that you issue instructions to your staff that:

(1) All PCNs for yellow junction boxes must contain sufficient details to identify the specific junction.
(2) In the event of an I.T. problem temporarily preventing this - as mentioned by Ms Beverley Taylor on 9 May 2008 - can I please have a reassurance that this will be speedily corrected.
(3) If and when drivers show that a PCN does not identify the specific location, these should be cancelled.

Can I please clarify that I am not trying to prevent the issue of PCNs for yellow junction box 'offences'. Nor am I ignoring the need to achieve compliance with the rules by the use of financial penalties. My concern is that Haringey's lines and signs comply with the statutory regulations; that our procedures follow good practice including PATAS decisions; and that we seek to 'get it right first time", rather than give grounds for representations and appeals.

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