Most residents of Leigh on Sea and Southend will be aware of the White Van Spy Cams, monitoring our street parking from a great distance, up to 100 meters away as in the Cat Flap Charlie case.
From such distances parking tickets are issued whether or not they are deserved, and the operators are not required to leave their vehicle to investigate the matter, or go anywhere near their victims.
This operation is outsourced to a private company by Southend Council.
They operate like internet phishers casting a wide net of CCTV, opportunistically, highly automated, randomly impersonal, and on an industrial scale, with no particular concern for whom they might inconvenience when they get it wrong.
Are they out of control? Yes.
Where the Monks were allowed by law to unload the car, for up to twenty minutes if necessary, the White Van Spy Cam was apparently able to determine that we were “parked” and that we were not “unloading.” “Unloading” is of course a legal activity.
The Council’s privatised contractor does not bother to inquire about this on a routine basis, because that would simply diminish their profit. They are therefore encouraged to wait for an opportunity to take a photograph when there is no sign of loading or unloading, and in our case that would be precisely when all the car doors were closed in the minute or so before Mrs Monk moved the car from where it had been “unloading”.
Any conventional parking attendant will tell you that parking attendants are obliged to observe and photograph a car parked for a period of three minutes.
One parking attendant told me that it was otherwise at the “discretion of the council”. It surprised me to hear someone so accepting of the notion that the Council might be above the law in this way.
In the Cat Flap Charlie case, Southend Council were only able to produce two photographs defining a period of 1 minute and 52 Seconds, and that would have been when Mrs Monk was actually in the driving seat, and at that time she would have been fastening her seat belt and checking her rear view mirror, where she in fact saw the White Van Spy Cam Van, just a block away, plotting perniciously, to deprive us of cash, to remove it from our pocket, and to place it in their pocket.
We provided the proof of the unloading of our package, which happened to be a sick Cat Flap Charlie, but the Council turned down our representation without comment. Shame on them.
We took the matter to an appeal and elected to have a live hearing, which would have forced the Council to address the issue, and answer a few questions.
We wanted to know the following:-
What is the guidance and instruction given to the outsourced private company, that runs the White Van Spy Cams, to determine whether or not a car is, or may be, legally loading or unloading, and is that guidance reasonable?
Why was the White Van Spy Cam which is equipped to monitor and record over time what occurred, not obliged to provide that evidence when it might support the argument of the recipient of the Parking Ticket?
Where are the White Van Spy Cam photographs of Mrs Monk carrying sick Charlie from the car to the house?
The Council decided not to face the music by simply not contesting our “appeal” to the Independent Adjudicator in Manchester. The Council were in this way able to avoid an interrogation by the Monks, who were up for it with an unassailable argument.
In fact we won the Appeal by default, but it did not feel like we had won because we had been inconvenienced a great deal.
The Council’s privatised contractor had suffered no inconvenience or forfeit whatsoever. They act for the Council, supposedly providing a service writing-up parking tickets for profit, and they are untroubled by our inconvenience. There is no penalty for them getting it wrong. Only the motorist is at risk, and many find that it pays to pay-up rather than to endure the arduous rigmarole of defending parking tickets.
I have learnt that in our case, costs are unlikely to be awarded and rarely are awarded. Southend Council and their outsourced private contractor will be aware of this, so it is no wonder that they operate in such a cavalier way.
Nevertheless I have written to the Adjudicator and asked for modest costs of £70, less than my wasted time is worth. I am asking for this sum because this is the sum they attempted to purloin from the Monks.
In order to be awarded costs I need to prove that the council have been "wholly unreasonable" which I believe to be the case, and which I believe is proven.
Will the adjudicator agree with me? Let us not hold our breath.
People in my neighbourhood will understand and appreciate an even more complicated blight on this neighbourhood created by the same privatised company with a direct interest in the White Van Spy Cam Scam.
Southend, Chalkwell, and Leigh on Sea residents, please watch this space. Thank you sympathetic councilors who have written to me. about this. You know who you are and you will be rewarded in heaven. You might be surprised to learn that some councilors with comfortable majorities have ignored our correspondence on these issues.
Letter to the Adjudicator.