HACKNEY COUNCIL has come under fire for using spy-cars to enforce right-turn bans rather than fixed cameras.
The right-turn ban was instituted in the 1980s when a pedestrian crossing was removed from the junction. Children use the street on their way to primary and secondary schools in the area and right-turning traffic was considered to endanger them particularly.
The council this year 2013 appeared to be giving up on the spy-cars when it spent money on altering the layout of the entrance from Cecilia Road to Dalston Lane to discourage motorists, who were still ignoring the No Right Turn signs.
Yet the CCTV cars, supplied on sub-contract, by Apcoa continued to be sent to the street, prompting residents to wonder about the point of the costly roadworks.
Resident Fenella Mallalieu told Loving Dalston: “My experience of these CCTV cars and vans, which are often parked right outside my gate, is that the engine is always running when the operator is in the car.
“I feel very unhappy about the use of these cars, certainly on the grounds of pollution, which is already bad on the street, and the taking up of residents’ parking spaces, but above all for the waste of money.
“How can it possibly make financial sense for the council to be outsourcing a job which is funding the capital and running costs of a fleet of vehicles, and the salaries of the drivers, instead of installing a fixed camera on a building or lamp post?”
Local politicians are also critical. Hackney Liberal Democrats said: “It is extraordinary that last winter  Hackney council publicly pledged, in response to local residents’ complaints, to penalise bus drivers who run their engines in Clissold Road and other bus stands.”
Cazenove ward LibDem councillor Abraham Jacobson added: “This is purely a revenue-raising exercise. Instead of stopping illegal behaviour by motorists, the council is turning them into cash cows.”
Charlotte George, of Hackney Green Party, said the CCTV vehicles seemed wasteful and bad for the environment, as well as unpleasant for residents of the streets where the CCTV cars were operating.
She said: “Can the council not install a permanent traffic camera at that spot if it’s such a problem area, or have a person with a digital camera that they operate manually?”
The council could be in breach of Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emission) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002, which allowed councils to issue £20 fixed-penalty notices to drivers who let engines run while parked.
The Metropolitan Police commented: “While it would always be wise to avoid needless emissions, the contribution that the CCTV vehicles make to public safety for both drivers and pedestrians more than justifies the use of their engines.”
The spokeswoman added that police would always respond to reports of anti-social behaviour, vehicle-related or otherwise.
Hackney council commented: “It is important that regular enforcement action is taken at this location to prevent drivers’ making an illegal and dangerous right turn.”
“The CCTV vehicle engine is small, 1.2cc, and low-emission, so there is very little pollution or noise pollution.”
The engine was usually running for about 10 minutes an hour to recharge the battery.
David Altheer 181113
* Backstory: Sly eye around the borough
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