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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I think that parking was suspended on several ladder roads earlier this month.  I was annoyed because the actual gully clearing job didn’t actually get completed.  I raised a complaint - response from the council below

Let me start by apologising for the inconvenience that this parking suspension has caused you and fellow residents. We did suspend parking and out of 20 gullies our contractors were able to clean only 8 of them. They would normally clean all 20 of them but they told us that their truck broken down. They also reported that it took them longer to clean the other 8 gullies. The work has been rescheduled to delivered in February. I do not have firm dates yet, but we will erect suspension signs again at locations where we have yet to clean the gullies.

I did note that quite a few PCNs got issued on the street when people didn’t move their cars.  Might be worth challenging these…

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Unnecessary parking suspensions have become a real issue in Hewitt Road of late, and it's not related in the main the gully cleaning. Over the past six months, at the top of the road we've had more than half a dozen parking suspensions covering between a dozen and twenty houses over four or more days. On one occasions a small hole was dug in the pavement, on most of the others no one ever showed up to do any work.

It's very strange and makes me wonder what the system for suspensions is. 

a. Is the cost sufficient to dissuade contractors from making unnecessary applications?

b.To what extent does the cost correspond with the size of the suspension?

c. Are fees refunded is no work is carried out?

I'm glad you raised this with the council. Neither I noe any of my neighbours have ever done so. 

And, yes, each suspension brings at least one penalty ticket with it, but I can't see parking letting people off in the event of a contractor no-show. 

Drain4.jpgI may not be a neighbour, Hugh (I live in Hornsey close to Park Road that was so badly flooded - twice - in July last year) but I have taken this up with the Council.

Following the first flood a Labour Councillor dismissed the suggestion that the floods were the result of blocked drains. I had seen and photographed numerous examples (I must get a life) and posted them saying: "No blocked drains?" She replied: 'It just  rained yesterday."

With that I set about logging all the blocked gullies and drains located in roads higher than Park Road on the way to Muswell Hill and posted them on local social media sites. I wanted there to be an effective and ongoing programme of gully clearance in the borough. Finally the Council were shamed into it and - following a second flood - started to clear the blocked drains. But then the issue of parking suspensions began and PCNs being issued. I wrote to the head of the Council on 1 Dec.

Dear Councillor Ahmet,

I was pleased to see that Haringey Council, following years of neglect re. the maintenance of our road drainage system, has finally got its act together and purchased two dedicated gully clearance vehicles. It is unfortunate that it took a campaign on local social media sites and two major floods to get the Council to fulfil its statutory obligations in this area. However, it appears that all is not running smoothly in the roll-out of this programme. Roads are designated for gully cleaning on specific dates. Parking fines are issued to vehicles five minutes after the time / date enforcement begins... but then no gully clearance actually takes place on the designated date.

I appreciate this is a great way to raise revenue but I would suggest it is an equally successful way to lose public support / votes.

Please see accounts below from local residents who have been caught out and those trying to alert others.

If parking tickets were issued on designated days and then no clearance actually took polace can you confirm that the council will not enforce the parking tickets issued?

Can you further confirm that cleaning will happen on future designated dates? Thanks in anticipation for your consideration.

 

All Good Wishes,

 

Brian Bowles

I then pasted numerous examples of posts from individuals who had been ticketed on roads then were subsequently left uncleaned (ie the gullies.)

I received a reply on 21 Dec.

Thank you for your email of 1st December – I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

Firstly, thank you for acknowledging the Council’s decision to invest more in maintaining its drainage assets across the borough. Of course, having taken that decision, the challenge has then been to clear gullies in roads that have vehicles parked in them for substantial periods of the day. As the gully emptiers require clear access to the gully grating, the gully pot and the exiting pipe (in most instances, connecting to a local Thames Water sewer), the only way to secure that access has been to instigate a series of parking suspensions – and for those suspensions to be enforced by our Civil Enforcement Officers. During November, 675 road gullies were successfully cleared in this manner across Crouch End, Highgate, Hornsey, Muswell Hill and St Anns.

Despite formulating this joined-up approach across several teams within the Highways and Parking Service, it is recognised that there have been instances when the gully emptiers have not reached certain roads as planned. That has predominantly been due to a higher proportion of road gullies requiring extensive clearance work than our contractor had anticipated, thereby delaying the arrival of the gully-emptiers to their next location. As a result, this has necessitated re-scheduling of the parking suspension and the gully clearance in those roads not reached on the planned date.

Those who receive a penalty charge notice (PCN) and consider that they have grounds to appeal the issuing of that PCN are able to do so. When presented with such an appeal, the Council considers whether cancellation is appropriate or not and, for where the PCN recipient is clearly not at fault, the PCN can be cancelled – all of this is normal procedure. In that respect, I reassure you that this is not a deliberate money-making exercise. In order to reduce the likelihood of PCNs being unnecessarily issued in the future, though, the current programme of gully clearance work (and associated parking suspensions) is under review to reflect a slower gully clearance completion rate than previously predicted.   

I hope that the above is helpful clarification.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Councillor Peray Ahmet

 

I replied on 7 Jan.: 

Dear Cllr. Ahmet,

Thank you for getting back to me on this matter You may be aware that last year I mounted a campaign highlighting the parlous state of the borough's gullies: many blocked for years if not decades. Until the two floods of last summer the Council appeared to be either unaware of the awful state of the drains or in denial. I have no doubt that the inability of torrential rain to soak away though the natural means of the roads' gullies resulted in the floods we saw in various parts of the borough but particularly in Park Road and Priory Road causing damage to individual properties and resulting in untold expense amd misery for those affected. My aim, by my campaign, was that the Council would insitute an ongoing and regular gully cleaning programme: with the purchase of two dedicated vehicles you appear, finally, to have done this. 
I understand that you need to ensure that roads are free of private vehicles in order to carry out this cleaning programme. I believe that traffic wardens were issuing PCNs at 8.05 on the designated dates for cleaning. The 'contract' if you like between Council and local residents is: "You move your car on the specified date. We'll clear the gullies on the specified date." 
In the instance I have highlighted certain individuals did not move their car but neither did the Council clear the gullies. So both parties were at fault - but only one party has been penalised. 
You write: "... the gully emptiers have not reached certain roads as planned. That has predominantly been due to a higher proportion of road gullies requiring extensive clearance work than our contractor had anticipated." Can I suggest that this is a direct result of years of neglect on the part of Haringey Council. Had some sort of effective gully clearance programme been in place  then the gullies would not have required such extensive cleansing and the dedicated vehicles would have been able to reach the designated roads on the specified days.
I felt that, in those instances where the cleaning vehicles failed to meet the timetable and no work was done on the specified roads, it was particularly harsh to then enforce the PCNs. Hence my original email to you.
I have heard anecdotally that a number of individuals have appealed against the PCNs as you suggested below but, as far as I am aware, all appeals have been rejected. Can you let me know the number of appeals the Council has heard on this issue, the number which were upheld and he number which were cancelled. Thank you in anticipation.
Given that penalties have been applied to drivers who failed to move their cars what would you say would be a fair penalty for the Council failing not only to meet its cleaning schedule but also failing in its statutory obligation over many years to keep the borough's gullies clear? I look forward to hearing from you. 
All Good Wishes,
Brian Bowles


I have yet to receive a reply.

No doubt a Freedom of Information request would elicit the information on the number of fines issued and the revenue generated as a result. Anyone want to take this up?

 

Absolutely brilliant use of the English language and sweet talk. This Council is useless. hiding behind gobbledegook so much of the time.

We need someone like yourselves to get a commonsense approach out of these PC  jobsworths and you've set the tone wonderfully.

More power to your elbow

I'd love to hear further on this gully cleaning fiasco.

We've had a few days of parking bay suspensions this week over in St Ann's. Last Friday and Monday was the latest for a couple of roads next to my road. Lots of PCNs issued but I saw zero gully clearing going on. I did see a gully cleaning van driving slowly up a street, but it didn't do any clearing. A couple of big car removal lorries hung round for a while but I don't think they removed any cars.

My street has parking restrictions notices up for Friday, I'll be surprised if anything actually gets done.

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