Spy camera fine income in York set to top £1/2 million this year

The York Council has issued updated figures indicating the number of Penalty Charge notices issued on Coppergate and Low Poppleton Lane.

ANPR “spy cameras” are in use in both locations.

The figures for Low Poppleton Lane in April are the first to be published since the Council discontinued issuing “warning letters”.

456 drivers were fined on Low Poppleton Lane in April. That could bring in around £20,000 in additional income for the Council.

The picture in Coppergate is similar, with 640 penalty charge notices issued, a big increase on the same month in 2017.

Taking both sites together, the Council could pull in around £500,000 a year in fine income – far above budget forecasts.

The use of “spy cameras” has been criticised in the past as an over-reaction by the authorities to relatively modest traffic problems.

In Coppergate, at least, most penalty notices have been issued to visitors to the City.

Signage, although now legally compliant, is difficult for motorists to interpret quickly as they search the City for their destination.

 

51% of those fined on Coppergate are visitors

ANPR cameras result in 3625 PCNs being issued between July and December

The York Council has finally responded to a Freedom of Information request tabled in January.

The response reveals that fines totalling £218,000 were levied.

£83,580 has so far been received by the Council. Most (2586) paid at the lower discounted fine rate

Since then (in January and February) a further 1131 fine notices were issued. This figure was suppressed by the road works which took place in the area during those months.

Of the fine notices issued in 2017, 1854 (51%) were to vehicle owners with addresses outside the YO postcode area.

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

There were 346 successful appeals against the penalty charge notices. Most of these were from “out of area” taxis and private hire vehicles.

No outstanding fines have yet been subject to a formal recovery process (use of bailiffs etc) .

The cost of administering the penalty charge process in 2017 was £61,958. The process is outsourced to a company from the south of England.

The figures are likely to give rise to concern. The levels of abuse suggest that the signage is still not being readily understood by drivers.

Coppergate fine information on Council web site

There are likely to be calls for a warning letter to be sent to first time offenders.

The Council was criticised in 2013/14 when thousands of fines were levied on tourists in the City who had used the – then restricted access – Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

The resulting national publicity damaged York as a tourist destination, with its reputation only recently having begun to recover.

Visitor abuse of the restrictions is expected to peak in the summer months.

NB. The Council has not yet published details of the numbers of motorists fined following the introduction of ANPR surveillance of restrictions on Low Poppleton Lane.

Safety concerns raised about new York spy camera site

With the new ANPR enforcement cameras now in use on Low Poppleton Lane, a response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that safety engineers raised three significant concerns about the project.

In a report dated as recently as 18th December 2017 – three months after the go ahead for the scheme was given – engineers say that there will be a potentially hazardous pinch point on the cycle path, that the priority signage may be confusing and that the location of the “bus gate” on a bend may result in sight line problems

The review team go on to say,

Additionally, the new signage refers to a bus lane but there are no traditional bus lane markings provided and as far as the audit team are aware this would be the only bus lane in York which is not usable by taxis and motorcycles”.

Notwithstanding the concerns no significant amendments were made tot eh design before it was implemented a couple of weeks ago. Drivers and motorcyclists using the road will receive on warning letter before any subsequent infringement will result in the issue of a PCN and a potential £100 fine.

A separate risk assessment was made of the railway crossing last June when removal of the rising bollard was being considered.

It concluded, “We consider that the proposal to increase the traffic over the crossing by the local highway authority will significantly increase the public risk at the level crossing. We do not support the implementation of the trial of the temporarily removal of the bollards to allow through traffic due to the risks outlined above”.

The current Automatic Half Barrier (AHB) crossing is ranked at number 23 out of 2139 safety risk crossings across the London North East & East Midlands Route.

On the highway, an accident record review revealed that, during the last 3 years, there had been only one slight accident on the section of Millfield Lane affected by the restrictions.

One slight accident had been reported on Low Poppleton Lane – involving a cyclist entering the former school car park.

The Council had quoted excessive volumes of traffic using Low Poppleton Lane because of failures in the rising bollard system.

The information response indicates that there are around 5000 vehicles movements on the whole of Millfield Lane on a typical day.  This is relatively low for a street which includes an industrial estate and school.

No figures for Low Poppleton Lane are provided but they are thought to be very small.

Mean vehicle speeds on Millfield Lane are around 32 mph (just above the speed limit).No figures for Low Poppleton Lane have been provided, although again vehicle speed is unlikely to be an issue on what is a short stretch of road.

The Council has promised to review its policy which would see the users of mopeds having to dismount and push their bikes along the cycle track.We think riders are unlikely to do so.

The alternative route (via the ring road and A59) would be particularly hazardous for riders of light weight machines.

The nature of the information now revealed suggests that the decision to go ahead with the camera installation should have been subject to prior public consultation with a decision being taken, at on open meeting, attended by the responsible Executive member.

We hope that such a meeting will happen quickly now.

The project is currently subject to a 18 month trial.

UPDATED Work completed on new bus lane. ANPR cameras on site

UPDATE 17/1/18 WE UNDERSTAND EXECUTIVE CLLR IAN GILLIES IS TO INTERVENE IN TH DISPUTED. WE UNDERSTAND THAT HE ACCEPTS THAT SOME PROVISION NEEDS TO BE MADE FOR MOPEDS NEEDING TO  ACCESS MILLFIELD LANE & LOW POPPLETON LANE. WE EXPECT SOME CHANGES, BUT NOT NECESSARILY BEFORE THE ANPR CAMERAS ARE SWITCHED ON. 

The new bus lane on Low Poppleton Lane/Millfield Lane is ready to be opened. It will be guarded by ANPR cameras which will automatically issue £90 fine notices to anyone driving through the “gate”, other than local bus services

The scheme has attracted criticism because of safety concerns. It emerged the decision was taken in early September without any public consultation.

The papers for the decision meeting don’t include the usual safety audit.

Most criticism has come from moped users who claim the new system will force them to use the busy A1237 northern by pass. That route involves the use of two multi lane roundabouts.

The Council have been alerted to the issue, but they claim that moped riders could dismount and push their bikes along the adjacent cycle lane. We think that there is little chance that most moped users will do that. Most will simply by-pass the gate by riding along the cycle track.

Anyone with concerns can email them to lowpoppletonlane.trial@york.gov.uk

In the meantime, a Freedom of Information request has been submitted to the Council asking it to publish the safety audit reports for the area together with accident, speed and volume figures

NB. Restrictions on Low Poppleton Lane were originally introduced following problems with sugar beet lorries short cutting through a street which included a school entrance. The sugar factory has long gone while the school has moved and now occupies a site on Millfield Lane

Low Poppleton Lane traffic restrictions – irregularities

ANPR camera use decision questioned as moped riders cry “foul”

Low Poppleton Lane rising bollards

Residents have complained about lack of consultation about the proposed use of ANPR cameras to enforce bus lane restrictions on Low Poppleton Lane. A decision was made to scrap the current rising bollard enforcement system following problems with reliability. Instead ANPR “spy” cameras will monitor the Low Poppleton Lane/Millfield Lane junction.

A media release from the Council last week claimed that the decision to use cameras had been made by the Executive member at a meeting which took place on 14th September. The media release said, “All traffic other than local bus services and the Manor School mini bus will be prohibited from passing through this restriction

It is clear from the minutes of the Executive Member meeting, that the plans for Low Poppleton Lane – one of many roads assessed for possible bus priority enforcement changes –  would be subject to a further report. This would have allowed residents and road users to raise any issues.

The report said, “It is recommended that further detailed reports are prepared where appropriate to enable the Executive Member to confirm the approach for each location prior to implementation”.

No such report has subsequently been published for the Low Poppleton Lane plan.

It has now emerged that a council official – at a private meeting held a week previously on 8th September – had already agreed to introduce the camera enforcement.

That report can be read by clicking here

Residents do not see these reports in advance of the decision being taken. It can be several weeks before the decision appears on – a very obscure – part of the Council web site.

The report recognises the potentially controversial use of cameras.

It says “It is proposed to implement the enforcement on the following basis:

· 2-week grace period with a letter sent to all drivers who pass through the area during the restriction period notifying them of the changes.

· A further 2 weeks with first offence warning letters indicating that a Penalty Charge Notice would be issued if the vehicle passed through the restriction again.

· Following those periods PCNs would be issued on all vehicles which contravened the TRO”.

Alternative route for moped riders avoiding Low Poppleton Lane.

The report confirms that only buses and the Manor school bus would be exempt from the restrictions. There is no relaxation for taxis or two wheeled transport riders.

There appears to have been no thought given to the safety of moped users. At present moped riders can pass between the raised bollards and use the traffic controlled and hence safe junction at Boroughbridge Road. There is also lightly trafficked route to Poppleton from Millfield Lane  where Manor school is now located.

If mopeds, which can be ridden by 16-year olds and which have a governed maximum speed of 30 mph, are banned from using Low Poppleton Lane, then they will be diverted onto the A1237 by pass.

This is a very busy stretch of road. Right turns at the two roundabouts on the alternative route would be especially hazardous in dark and rainy conditions. An underpass is provided for  pedal cyclists at the A59 roundabout

It seems that in its haste to avoid a public discussion about ANPR camera use, the Council has failed to address a potentially serious safety risk.

The implementation of the camera scheme should be suspended until these fears are resolved.

Low Poppleton Lane ANPR cameras. Officer decision 8th Sept

Low Poppleton Lane ANPR cameras. Councillor decision 14th Sept

Experimental bus lane for Low Poppleton Lane

Rising bollards will rise no more as ANPR cameras march goes on!

Low Poppleton Lane

City of York Council will be introducing an experimental bus lane for 18 months on Low Poppleton Lane in the new year.

The new CCTV ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) system will replace the current rising bollard system.

The changes were proposed to help increase pedestrian and cycle safety by stopping people ignoring the current restrictions. They were agreed in consultation with the  executive member for transport and planning by the Director for Economy and Place in September.

The Council says,

Construction is due to start on Tuesday 2 January and is expected to be complete by 12 January, weather dependant. Work will take place from 9.30am – 4pm, Monday – Friday. During this time, bus service 10 will divert via Boroughbridge Road and Station Road.

All traffic other than local bus services and the Manor School mini bus will be prohibited from passing through this restriction.

As with any construction work there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption. Residents can be assured that we will do everything possible to minimise this.

We have written to residents and businesses in the area to inform them of the changes. Temporary signs have also been put in place to give motorists advance warning of the new bus lane.

Once in place, motorists who breach the restrictions will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). This will be £60, reduced to £30 if payment is made within 14 days.

Any comments on the trial can be sent to lowpoppletonlane.trial@york.gov.uk. All comments will be considered before a decision is made on whether to make the scheme permanent or to revert to the old restrictions.

Dramatic increase in fines issued to Coppergate drivers

There has been a  big increase in the number of Penalty Charge Notices issued to drivers breaking the access only restrictions on Coppergate.

The latest figures suggest that the York Council could receive as much as £1/2 million in fine income during a full year.

The Council originally budgeted to receive around £100,000 in fine income

The change has come since officials stopped issuing “warning letters” to first offenders.

Since these stopped in the summer, the number of notices issued has crept up to reach 801 in November the latest figure available on the Councils web site 

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

The main concern, when the Council chose to switch ANPR cameras back on at the beginning of the year, was reputational risk. The ill-fated spy camera trial in 2014 – which encompassed Lendal Bridge as well as Coppergate – hit visitors to the City particularly hard with many vowing never to return.

How many of the new batch of offenders is local has not been revealed although Freedom of Information requests should break though this secrecy.

It was pointed out last January, that Coppergate was deserted for most of the day and therefore the camera surveillance was unnecessary.

It seems though that the Council has discovered a major “cash cow” and now needs to maximise the fine income to balance its books.

 

More spy cameras heading for York

The York Council is planning to install ANPR cameras at 3 more sites in York. The revelation comes only days after it was revealed that the only existing camera site on Coppergate has confirmed a very low level of abuse of the access restrictions there.

Now the Council says that it will install cameras at:

Foss Islands Road

  • Foss Islands Road Retail park
  • Shipton Road by Rawcliffe Bar &
  • Low Poppleton Lane (replacing the existing, unreliable, rising bollard)

The cameras are intended to enforce bus lane access restrictions.

The Council has published a list of 9 further locations which the cameras may also be introduced.

Shipton Road

The bus companies have told the Council that journey times area not adversely affected at present by vehicles misusing bus lanes in the City.

Cameras cost £15,000 per location.

In addition, there are some ongoing maintenance and fine processing costs plus the cost of improving signage (£10,000).

The cameras require very clear warning signage (the first attempt at ANPR enforcement on Coppergate failed this test).

Vehicles must travel 50m in the bus lane to trigger a penalty.

Shipton Road

The Low Poppleton Lane plans are likely to be particularly scrutinised.

The rising bollard dates for the days when sugar beet lorries used to deliver in the area.

Now it simply prevents a “short cut”.

The whole area needs a comprehensive management plan as part of the proposed redevelopment of the old school/sugar factory site. Plans are recommended for approval at a planning committee meeting taking pace next week (click here)

York drivers getting wise to spy camera wheeze?

Coppergate fine trend

The York Council is reporting that expected income from ANPR camera fines may be as much as £266,000 below budget this year.

The cameras were reintroduced in Coppergate in January but have failed to detect large numbers of drivers ignoring access restrictions on the street.

As a result, a report to the Councils Executive says, “operational costs are not realising any economies of scale”

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

Although this may be good news for drivers, it leaves the taxpayer to pick up the bill for the expensive camera system.

We warned before the cameras were activated that, during most of the day, Coppergate was very quiet – part of the economic malaise affecting much of the city centre – and that the cameras were an over-reaction.

Penalty Charge Income from fines at City centre car parks is also £29,000 below expectations.

So how much does the York Council expect to raise from Coppergate camera fines?

The York Council has published a list of contraventions of it’s revised ANPR camera enforced access restrictions on Coppergate.

To date, 82 Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) have been issued.

Some drivers have received warning letters for “first offences”

Potentially the PCNs might bring in around £35,000 in a full year – less if fines are paid promptly or appeals are successful.

However, we are only just entering the tourist season and we know from the Lendal Bridge debacle that many visitors to the City are vulnerable to these byzantine access regulations. York’s international reputation is once more on the line.

It seems unlikely that the Council will reach its budgeted income figure of £100,000 – unless of course it intends to roll out ANPR camera enforcement to other streets.

Administration costs for spy camera enforcement systems are high so it may be the taxpayer who eventually faces a hit.