Only 8 fines levied for dog fouling in York during last 3 years

The latest figures published on the Councils open data web site say that only 8 fixed penalty tickets have been issued for dog fouling since April 2015.

No penalty notices have been issued at all since June last year.

Similarly, no Community Protection Notices (see right) for dog fouling have been issued since 2015

The York Council receives around 2000 requests for action each year on cleansing issues which includes dog fouling. It no longer publishes the number of complaints it receives about full poop scoop bins but it used to be around 20 a month..

A contract was let in April for the replacement of ageing “poop scoop” bins in the City.

Several campaigns have been run to highlight the risks associated with dog fouling. These included, in some areas like Foxwood, displaying eye catching posters while in others local residents highlighted “poop” on footpaths with spray markers.

Whether the problem has got better, or worse over recent months is difficult to assess.

Issues can be traced back to 2012 when the, then Labour controlled, Council scrapped the “dog warden” service. At the same time, they reduced the number of litter and dog bins in the City.

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.

York blue badge cheat fined £478

City of York Council has  prosecuted a second individual for blue badge misuse who was directly identified from a council campaign.

Council civil enforcement officers and Veritau – the company that investigates fraud on behalf of the council – offered a two-week amnesty in July for the return of expired badges without question or fear of legal action being taken.

Once the amnesty passed, proactive ‘enforcement patrols’ were carried out across York in August and November. Enforcement officers and investigators checked badges on display to confirm that they were still valid, that the badge holder was present and using the badge. Where misuse was found, penalty charges were issued as well as criminal investigations instigated.

During the course of Veritau’s investigation Mr Balsham was interviewed under caution. He admitted that his mother, the badge holder, had not been with him and that he knew he could only park on double yellow lines if the badge holder was with him. Mr Balsham stated he parked on Blake Street because he was visiting a nearby tea room.

Mr Balsham had also made two appeals to his parking ticket which had implied his mother had been with him when it was given.

The investigation concluded with Mr Balsham pleading guilty to all charges at York Magistrates Court on 13 February 2018. The court gave him a fine of £40 and he ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and court costs of £408.

 

A blue badge should be handed back to the council if:

· It has expired

  • · The badge holder is no longer eligible to use one
  • · It is a replacement for a badge lost or stolen and the original has since been found
  • · The badge is so damaged or faded that the details are not clear
  • · The badge holder has died.

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.

 

Total £1,050 costs for ‘man with van’ who fly-tipped

Showing that fly-tipping doesn’t pay, a ‘man with a van’ who dumped domestic waste in a field’s gateway was yesterday (Tuesday 10 October) fined a total £1,057 by York Magistrates.

Adam Winterburn, aged 29 of Kingsmoor Road, Stockton on the Forest, pleaded guilty and was given a £307 fine, a £30 court surcharge and £720.45 prosecution costs.

A resident who posted on Facebook for a ‘man with a van’ to remove some rubbish from an address in Haxby was privately messaged by Winterburn offering to take the waste to the tip for £35. He said he couldn’t do it for any less as the household waste recycling centre would cost him around £15.

He warned the customer to make sure there was nothing in the waste with their name and address on it, claiming that other clearance people would take her waste and fly tip it, and that she would be the one who got the blame. Winterburn collected the waste later that day and was paid £35 in cash.

Days later, the waste was found dumped in the entrance to a field in Dunnington. Evidence was found linking the waste to the address in Haxby and the resident produced screenshots of all the messages from Winterburn.

Although Winterburn telephoned the council moments before his first interview to say that he wouldn’t be attending, a second interview date was arranged with him on the telephone and he failed to attend that too. He also failed to respond to any correspondence from the council.

Cllr Andrew Waller, interim deputy leader and executive member for environment, said: “Being licensed to collect, carry and dispose of waste is a legal requirement. Fly-tipping is unsightly, risks pollution and clearing it up creates costs for local council tax payers. Please check your waste carrier is properly licensed.

For information on commercial waste and residents’ responsibilities go to www.york.gov.uk/waste or visit the Environment Agency at www.gov.uk/guidance/access-the-public-register-for-environmental-information.

Coppergate ANPR fines upward trend

The Council seems to be struggling to keep up to date its records of fines imposed following the reintroduction of spy camera enforcement of the access restrictions on Coppergate.

Figures released, covering the period to the end of April, confirm an upward trend.

With the peak tourist season approaching, that trend is expected to continue

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.

York Council loses Coppergate appeal

Another £400,000 to be paid out to fined motoristsCamera

The traffic adjudicator has rejected the York Councils appeal over fines issued for breaches of the  Coppergate access restrictions.

It means that drivers who were caught and fined during the trial period (August 2013 – March 2014) on the route will be entitled to have the fines repaid.

It also puts paid to any idea that the Council may have of switching its spy cameras back on.

The Council may have a right of appeal to the High Court over the ruling but it seems unlikely that the new Councillors, who are due to be elected on 7th May, will pursue that costly option.

In total over £2 million was unlawfully taken  by the York Council in fines on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

Even when it was clear (after only 6 weeks) that the trial had gone badly wrong and should therefore be suspended, prominent Labour Councillor Dave Merrett refused to suspend the restrictions.

His chances of re-election on 7th May must now be fading along with the hopes of other Labour Cabinet members who also failed to act to end the scandal.

Both major opposition parties have promised a full public inquiry into the circumstances which led the Council to act unlawfully. Labour declined to hold such an inquiry when they were in office, with Green Councillors also voting against a probe for the truth.

 

Lendal Bridge “automatic fine” refund process revealed

Report published – administration to cost extra £150,000

The Council Cabinet will decide on 20th January how to implement the Councils decision to “automatically” refund those who were fined during the Lendal Bridge trial.

Lendal Man

So far 12,512 refunds have been issued by the Council.

The most likely course of action is that all 35,000 motorists, who have not yet claimed a refund, will be written to and advised of their opportunity to claim.

After that the process will be much the same as the scheme currently in operation.

The cost of sending out and managing the notification process is put at £150,000. The money will come from grant income which otherwise would have been spent on public services in the City.

In total the Council took around £1.8 million in fines from the Lendal bridge and Coppergate schemes. The Council continues to pursue a claim that the Coppergate fines were levied lawfully but their appeal has been outstanding for over 9 months now.

Additionally, over £700,000 was spent on implementing and administering the original schemes.

The Council is shying away from simply putting a cheque in the post to the registered vehicle keeper details that its agents have on file. They fear that many of the payments would not reach the right people (hire cars, parental cars, foreign tourists, deceased etc)  and Legal Counsel have said that such an option could jeopardise the Councils  Coppergate appeal.

All in all it now looks like the Lendal Bridge experiment will cost over £1 million.

That is money which could, and should, have been spent addressing road safety issues across the whole City.

Lendal Bridge meeting next week

Lendal Bridge sign

The Cabinet member with responsibility for Transport (now Cllr Levene following Dave Merretts sacking last week) will be asked on Monday to sort out the continuing Lendal Bridge refund crisis.

Although no background report has yet been published, it seems likely that the first step will be to scrap the 31st December deadline for the Council to receive refund requests.

Quite how the Council will “automatically” refund the remaining fines remains to be seen as does the result of the Council’s appeal against similar unlawful charges which were levied in Coppergate.