Friday, December 31, 2010

London Parking Fines

The BBC reports that overseas driver are not paying parking fees and when given a fine they simply ignore the fine and drive home. Westminster City Council reports that between July 2007 and October 2010, 45,437 tickets issued to foreign-registered vehicles had been written off because the driver could not be traced - with £3.2m still owed. That is £70.42 per ticket. Let me add my 2p.

This was reported after 20 UK councils and police forces responded to a Freedom of Information request. The BBC did not state clearly who requested the report, either the BBC or the Campaign group the Sparks Network. May I ask why this took a freedom of information request? Why is this a state secrete? Are councils afraid the public is going to think they are awash in cash and may demand lower taxes?

And may I ask the councils; what’s the bitch? Had those 45 thousand people just paid the meter what would have been the take? Subtract this from the outstanding fines and that is what councils really think they lost. The only money they lost was the fee, which is applied to control parking and giving shoppers a chance to park. This in itself generates taxes paid by merchants. Yes, the councils are entitled to the fines but only government sees not receiving money not directly due them as a loss. If everyone paid the parking fee and never got a fine, how much money is “lost”?

Apparently the UK cannot locate foreign owners under current EU regulations. As the European Union is attempting to behave like a United States of Europe it should be easy to locate registered cars. Here, when a car is stopped, the police know within minutes the owner name ad address along with outstanding warrants or suspensions. When I get a parking ticket the make and model of my car is printed on the ticket along with my license. The government keeps track of that and when you reach five outstanding tickets you car is located and booted. You are unable to dive it until the fines are paid. It is too bad that Brussels has so much control over London life but that is what happens when you sign your rights away. Still, I think innovative ways can be found to collect fines on foreign cars. It could be a money maker.

Monday, December 20, 2010

London Snow Disrupting Lives

I see that the snow is causing a lot of problems for people trying to get from one place to another. They are focused on this and having no way of getting on they are greatly troubled and many are getting beyond the good manners they would normally have. May I say: get a grip.

With the snow disrupting everyone's lives and making travel next to impossible, has anyone asked how the elderly and disabled are doing? Are they able to get food and medicine? Can care givers get to them? Yes, at this time of the year it would be nice if we could all get out and exchange presents. Burt many cannot get out, even on a sunny day. Can we give them some thought. Isn't this the spirit of Christmas?

I am not trying to make light on people trying to travel to see family, but there are so many trying to stay warm, fed and use the toilet on a daily basis. Let us all see if we can give them a merry christmas too.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

London Underground Error

This BBC news story tells how passengers were left off at a closed tube station during a strike action. The train came to a stop at Canada Water and the doors opened. No one got on but several passengers got off only to find no way out. One thing I find disturbing about this article is how confusing it was to read. It illustrated what had occurred on several dates and I was left confused as to what occurred on a specific date. I have other questions that should have been brought into the article.

Once the passengers exited the train and found the exits closed. Was there any indication that another train was coming soon? Was there no indication to the driver that the station was closed? As the passengers were probably away from the platform be this time probably not. Was no staff person viewing this on CCTV? Monitor stations are off site (I think) but somebody in security should have known.

Passengers had to exit by climbing out of a fire escape. Were there no alarms when the escape hatch was opened? It was reported that a member of staff did spot them and helped them. Did he help them out of the fire escape? Why did he not just open the doors? Did he have any way of communicating with the passengers? Maybe it's just me but a lot is missing in this story.

This could have been bad. What if a passenger got injured during the escape? What if a passenger was in a wheel chair? Do fire escapes handle wheel chairs? Did the fire escape have an Oyster touch pad? In my lame attempt to inject humor that comment does try to illustrate a point. London Underground has a vast arsenal of equipment and electronics to monitor its system to prevent theft, fire and loss of life. The inquest on the 7/7 bombings shows that the system can be improved but in this case the system should have been in place. I would hope that tube bosses do not just scoff this off as “driver error” but use it to learn that things can go wrong and look for ways to prevent it from happening again. This did happen on several occasions so maybe they are not making this a priority. Tube passengers need to know that if something goes wrong they will not be left on their own. As for the BBC I think they could have done a better job it reporting this.