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Bonkers Blog December 2011

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10 December - How’s that for a lie?

Record buttonYou may well see Notomob members on the streets of Bexley today, they are not happy with Bexley council. Bexley’s legal responsibility is to try to reduce parking offences to zero but we all know that Bexley council is only interested in raising revenue. Why else would it hide its cars up side streets, use the wrong signs and most tellingly of all, send their tame police force to Martin Peaple’s door when he warned shoppers of a hidden car? On their own admission, Bexley council had no legal right to do that. If you think that this is going to be another blog in which Bexley council is labelled an organisation built upon dishonesty you would be absolutely right.

It is necessary to say at the outset that Notomob’s activities are entirely lawful, they do what Bexley council should be doing; persuading motorists to park legally and without penalty. It is the latter that gets right up Bexley council’s nose but there is nothing they can do about it. Notomob operates in at least six boroughs and nowhere have the police taken any action against them. Indeed there have been lots of examples of encouragement by individual officers.

Notomob has established a few facts about Bexley mobile CCTV operation. The council admits that it does not comply with the London-wide Code of Conduct on the use of mobile CCTV for parking enforcement to which it is a signatory. It falsely claims that this is an advantage to the motorist. It also admits its operation is not certificated but continues in the belief that a Technical Construction File (TCF) from the manufacturer is an acceptable substitute. In other boroughs that defence has failed and we await the test case for Bexley. Bexley council has said it wants to publish that TCF on its website but six weeks later is unable to provide any evidence that it has made any move in that direction.

Something not revealed on Bonkers before today, but recently cleared for publication by my contacts in Notomob, is that the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) has stated under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act that it doesn’t even know that Bexley operates four enforcement cars, they only have information about two. When Bexley council was asked (FOI request) when it acquired its four CCTV cars it claimed it did not know except that two cars were added to the fleet by NSL after winning the contract from Vinci.

A more complex question followed…


Can you please tell me if any amendments have been made to your Technical Construction File and submitted to the VCA since 1st of May 2011? If the answer is yes, please answer the following three questions…
1) What are the amendments?
2) What was the date(s) of the amendment(s)?
3) On what date was this information as detailed in any amendments confirmed by the VCA as being fit for purpose?


Easy enough to answer you might suppose except that an honest answer might further incriminate an incompetent and thoroughly dishonest council. The answer came from Jenny How.


Your request for information has now been considered and it is not possible to meet your request. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice.

The Authority relies upon Section 14(1) which does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious. The Authority considers that the request is vexatious for the following reasons:

The request is the latest in a series of similar requests from various linked sources, (acting in concert), concerning the topic in question. In each instance the Authority has responded, in full compliance with any regulations and/or best practice guidance or protocols. Requests for similar information from known associates have already been refused in accordance with the regulations.

In addition, at the invitation of the Authority, you accompanied an associate to the Authority’s office to carry out your own supervised inspection of the information held by the Authority in respect of this and previous requests. You were advised at that point that the Authority would be seeking to publish either a redacted copy of the documents requested or a summary of said documentation in the future and that verbal discussions were ongoing with the supplier of said equipment to ensure that there were no regulatory breaches in any such disclosure, (as the Authority has already confirmed that said data is commercially sensitive in it’s original format).

During the above meeting with the Head of Traffic & Parking Services, aggressive behavior was displayed by your colleague and personal threats were made against the Head of Service which were both distressing and suggest an unreasonable fixation with an Officer of the Authority. The Authority is also aware that aggressive and attacking articles have been posted onto a forum site of which you are a known prominent member and group organiser.

The Authority also considers that this request will be used to cause disruption and annoyance as you are a known associate of a group which has publicly stated it intends to disrupt the service and has indeed taken direct action to do so by harassing Officers of both the Authority and it’s civil parking enforcement contractor on numerous occasions.

Information disclosed previously has been displayed on the above mentioned forum and other sites together with personal attacks and other inflammatory and derogatory comments, and the Council contends that there is reasonable cause to consider that such disclosure would be used in such a manner in the future.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny How
Service Review Officer


Now that is a very interesting reply. Forget for a moment that it is a thoroughly dishonest response by Jenny How and takes the cowardly ‘vexatious’ route so loved by our council when it has lost the argument. The subtle bit I like is the reference to parking enforcement as a “service” which Notomob has chosen to “disrupt”. If Bexley council is observing the law the only thing that Notomob could do to disrupt that would cause more motorists to be fined, which is manifestly absurd. So if Bexley council regards Notomob as disruptive it can only mean that Bexley council has knowingly and illegally set about the entrapment of motorists and doesn't wish to see their illegal activity disrupted. It’s not exactly news but it was very kind of spinning Jenny How to spell it out so clearly.

And now for the other aspects of the reply. The statements that the Notomob representatives were “aggressive” at their meeting on 28th October, the “personal threats”, the “unreasonable fixation with an officer of the authority”. Whatever is that when it is at home? Is Jenny How certifiably insane or merely misinformed by Tina Brooks the Parking Manager? Whatever the reason the FOI response is one long lie. And how do I know? The clue is in the image above.

Note: The Information Commissioner has previously ruled that the ‘vexatious’ excuse is not valid for use against an individual, however obnoxious he may be. It can only be used against repetitive questions on exactly the same point as a previous one. Notomob’s question had not been asked before. Bexley council is acting outside the law yet again to try to hide the fact it is acting outside the law.

 

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