Councillors' Attendance Statistics
ISSUES WITH LBRuT CAMERA CARS - UPDATE - TO FOLLOW
To receive information on current issues surrounding work undertaken by the Borough’s Camera Cars.
Cabinet received a report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Streetscene the purpose of which was to describe serious problems with the requirements for certification of camera cars that had been operated for the Council since April 2009 and to make recommendations for the way forward.
The Cabinet Member for Highways and Streetscene introduced the report to Cabinet and reminded members of the complex issues involved and the recommendations of officers.
Lord True also addressed the meeting. He apologised that the procedural path the decision would now take would be longer than he had originally envisaged, owing to the decision having to be brought before a full Council meeting. He acknowledged that any delay was unfortunate but it was necessary to ensure that decisions taken were procedurally correct and legally sound. He reminded those present that as elected representatives members of the Cabinet must balance the interests of all residents and give due regard to the legal advice received.
Cabinet heard representations from members of the public:
Mr Ashford addressed Cabinet and during his representations made the following points:
Ø Examples were given of the types of people who would miss out on refunds of Penalty Charge Notices administered by inadequately certificated Camera Cars should the council choose not to contact people directly.
Ø Examples were given of other authorities where repayments had pro-actively been made
Ø That an advert and appeal process was a step in the right direction but still an insufficient response to the problem.
Ø That Cabinet and its members risked engaging in criminal activity should they choose to follow the recommendations in the report.
There were no questions for Mr Ashford but Lord True commented that claims of criminal activity were very serious and should not be made lightly.
Mr Wise addressed Cabinet and during his representations he made the following points:
Ø He commended Cabinet and the Council on the steps it had taken thus far to address the problems identified and also on the wider approach to traffic management and parking.
Ø He claimed, with regret, that the policies in the past including the use of camera cars had forced businesses in the area to close.
Ø That the council should continue in this vein and take a pro-active approach to the repayment of wrongly taken monies, as described by the previous speaker.
Lord True thanked Mr Wise for drawing to the attention of the Council the problems that had now come to light and were being dealt with at the first opportunity.
Mr Baker addressed Cabinet and during his representations he made the following points:
Ø That it would cost money to place advertisements in the press that could be used to contact those affected.
Ø That should a bank take money from an account and not pay that money back it would count as theft under the Theft Act; he suggested that the situation which Cabinet was addressing should be viewed in the same way.
Ø He argued that a full and swift repayment to all of those affected would help to maintain and build relations between residents and the Council, anything less would adversely affect that relationship.
Lord True thanked all those who had spoken for their comments. He assured those present that legal advice had been taken and that this had informed the recommendations in the report. He clarified that this advice included information in respect of a range of authorities mentioned by Mr Ashford and Mr Wise in their representations that evening and in written exchanges with officers and Members ahead of the Cabinet meeting. He noted that there was one new authority mentioned by Mr Ashford and Mr Wise in their verbal addresses to the Cabinet – Wiltshire – and that legal advice would be sought in this regard ahead of the full decision of Council.
The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources described to those present the problems inherent in balancing the rights and needs of all of those people resident in the Borough. If Cabinet were to ignore legal advice and return money, in a way in which it had been advised it had no legal authority to do, it would put the Council at risk of complaints and challenge to the District Auditor.
The Cabinet Member for Highways and Streetscene reminded those present that any money not claimed as part of the appeal would be used to make improvements to his portfolio (Highways and Streetscene) and would therefore benefit all motorists. He also reported that although all of the boroughs Camera Cars were now correctly registered they would not be on the road during the Council’s review and that their future use was dependent on the outcome of the review.
Lord True reiterated the arguments put forward by speakers and councillors and the recommendations in the report and confirmed that they had all been considered fully and carefully. He hoped that all those involved would acknowledge this.
It was RESOLVED that Cabinet
recommend to Council:
That the penalty charges incurred by the Penalty Charge
Notices (PCNs) issued by the
uncertified camera cars be repaid to those who properly appeal to
2. That this be handled by a Traffic Management Act 2004 based appeal process creating an appeal period until the end of the calendar year 2011.
3. That the date for the start of the appeal period be determined by the date advertisements for this action can be placed in the press and that these be placed as soon after the Council meeting as practicably possible.
That unclaimed funds be invested into parking, highway
and footpath related improvements as an addition to original spend
projections and as part of the 2012/13 budget review process.
5. That the detail of this process of payback be delegated to the Director of Environment in liaison with Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Highways.