Monday, 19 November 2012

CCTV and London

Continuing from my www.wheots.blogspot.com I now come to what I see as the sinister aspect of the cctv surveillance on London's streets which affects everyone who drives there. However I shall stick to my personal view as a Taxi Driver.
The London Taxi Trade has been a major part of the transport throughout the capital for over three hundred years, yet the Taxi Trade has been included in what I call the daily extortion of money from drivers by the authorities. Yes, I accept that we have been exempted from paying the Congestion Charge, allowed access to most bus lanes and we can park in certain places free of charge. However during a day's work, especially working for one of the radio circuits, it is necessary to park outside the building and wait for the passenger. Particularly important is this also, when collecting passengers who are entitled to subsidised transport via the Taxicard scheme, because of serious illness or disability. In addition, in case anyone does not know, a taxi actually picks up people from the street and sets them down at their required destination. That means where the passenger wants to get out. All of these services to the public have been targeted by the authorities to take as much money as possible from the Taxi Driver. Without going into great detail here is a summary :-

Cameras have been placed on Red Routes and No Loading areas to fine drivers setting down passengers there. This happens even in the middle of the night when there is no obstruction likely. As I said you set down where the passenger wants to alight, not two miles down the road.
Fines for stopping in a bus lane to pick up passengers.
Two minute time limits have been imposed to set passengers down even though this contravenes Hackney Carriage Law.
Traffic Wardens, now Private Parking Attendants harass drivers if they need to use a nearby toilet, issuing a parking ticket. This disrespect is deplorable. Of course it is mutual as a result.
Camden Council and the City of Westminster also use smart cars equipped with mobile cameras, with blacked out windows to spy on drivers going about their work.
Then of course there was the fiasco of the Olympic Lanes. Rather than using the iconic London Taxi as a positive example of the capital, Taxis were sidelined to ordinary traffic and threatened with a £130 fine.

If you receive a PCN (penalty charge notice) which has been generated by a camera it states on the form that the offence was recorded not by a person but by Observer Number ...whatever.....
The fact that unnamed observers are peering at everyone one who drives from the authorities' control rooms just waiting to capture someone who has transgressed the traffic rules or parking rules and then issuing them with a hefty fine I find disgusting. I also find it disgusting that these systems have been allowed to have been put into place in such a country as the UK, a country in which freedoms are gradually being eroded on the apparent suspicion that we are all potential terrorists or criminals.

To finish this subject I will mention one occasion when the City of London issued me with a PCN which I found deplorable. I received a job allocation to collect a disabled passenger from Old Broad Street in the City. As I said before, for a Taxicard passenger you need to 'at the door' when they come out of the building. You don't know if the person cannot walk or if they have a bad heart or whatever. You can't ride around the block and come back later.This might cause problems. So, on this occasion I had to wait 15 minutes before the lady came down. I had received a message earlier that she was on her way. It turned out she had multiple sclerosis and walked with a stick. I duly completed the job. Some days later I received a PCN stating that I had parked illegally. I had been observed by number blah blah who was operating the camera at the end of a street nearby called Austin Friars. As it was a radio allocated job the circuit usually pays the fine but because of the circumstances: the fact it was a Taxicard job and the passenger had been issued her card by the Borough of Southwark, I decided to appeal. I provided all the details of the circumstances. The appeal was refused. I could not believe that the City of London would want to make money as a result of the disabled scheme ! They pride themselves on the social righteousness of the Taxicard scheme and fine the driver for collecting the passenger. Words fail me !!! The person in charge at the time was Mr.J. Perreira.




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