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The Borough of Waltham Forest complies with the law
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7 August 2008. Two utterly tedious photos for anyone who has never had a parking ticket.

And probably for most people who have. But stick with it, and I’ll let you into three nasty little secrets.

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What’s going on here?

These are road markings in a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Nothing special about them; just where Zena and I were visiting friends in August 2008.

Nor is there anything out of the ordinary about the double yellow lines. In the U.K. drivers are not normally allowed to park on them at any time. To show clearly where these lines end, they must terminate with a short ‘T’ crossbar. These do and so they comply with Department for Transport Regulations. If you decide to park on this double-yellow and get a ticket, tough.

Now, the slightly more interesting lines.

The two broken white lines at 90º to the kerb show the end of parking bays. Look carefully and you’ll see that, at one time, both bays had a double white end line – but one line has been painted out. (I took both photos at night. The camera flash makes the one on the left look more distinct than it really is. In fact both superfluous second lines are overpainted.)

Department for Transport (DfT) regulations* stipulate that parking bays should have a single white broken end line, unless they have individual bays marked out for each vehicle. In which case they need double end lines.

In the photos above, Waltham Forest – or maybe its contractors – originally got it wrong. But while double white end lines were originally painted in error, the extra lines had been painted over. So the marking did comply with DfT Regulations.

I’ve no idea how many parking bay lines were corrected by Waltham Forest. But they realised these were non-compliant; so got them marked correctly. By the way, this is not guesswork. I emailed Waltham Forest Parking Service and checked the position.

The First Secret

I promised to tell you three secrets. Here’s the first. Thousands of roads in (probably) hundreds of local authorities are not (or were not) properly marked according to the DfT regulations. These local councils knew and know this. Some – like Waltham Forest – did the decent and proper thing and corrected them.

In mid-2008 many London boroughs – through London Councils their taxpayer-funded quango – were in discussion with Department for Transport civil servants to get a different solution. They wanted Rosie Winterton M.P. (then Minister of State for Transport) to give "temporary authorisation" letting them continue ignoring the DfT regulations with impunity for a further two years.

This amnesty on rule-breaking was not granted. Had it been, it would have applied only to local councils – not to drivers.

And perversely, it would have rewarded those local councils who – asleep at the management wheel – failed to spot that their staff (or contractors) painted the wrong road markings. Or when they did notice, failed to insist the job was redone correctly.

Was it reasonable to give local councils a bit more time to get their traffic lines repainted correctly? Of course. Though if I was the Minister I’d give weeks or at most a few months – not years. And I’d ask what steps – if any – each council had already taken to put its mistakes right.

Second Secret.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve realised the problem is not just one white line or two, or a few missing ‘T’-bars. There are important principles at stake.

► Elected local councils are not above the law. And by the way, there is no very small print somewhere which says: "Except for parking lines and signs."

► Public confidence in public officials is undermined when they abuse their powerful position to play fast and loose with the rules.

So much for the principles.

The Third Secret

Now let’s look at what’s really bothering many Town Halls up and down the country. Money.

Traffic fines are now a major part of many local councils’ income. So when road lines or signs are wrong, drivers can appeal the “Penalty Charges” (traffic fines) and local councils lose income. If there are major blunders, thousands of people may appeal, clogging up the system. They could even start demanding their money back.

In some places, incompetent Parking and Highway Departments and/or their inept contractors have raised incorrect road lines and signs to an art form. As a result, many local councils may face potential holes in their budgets. Naturally, they wanted the Government to turn a blind eye and bail them out.

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§ Check this yourself *. See the: Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002.
Department for Transport’s Traffic Signs Manual. ( Page 123; diagram 10.28 )
§ Click here to read more and see other examples.

§ Ticketfighter website gives examples of local councils elsewhere whose parking enforcement staff seem to think they are above the law.

Kuala Lumpurus Terminus
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Kuala Lumpur has one of the best Airport-to-city train systems in the world. It’s fast, efficient, and comfy. It stops here at this train station which is always a nice spot for all kinds of activity. All of the girders, struts, and light makes it a good spot for HDR Photography.

Speaking of that, I heard that many of you are over checking out www.HDRSpotting.com. This site has not been officially announced yet, and it’s still in early testing. Many are asking me personally for access, but I don’t control that list of who gets early private invites… (anyway I am indirectly asking that you don’t email me to "get you in"!) hehe… You can sign up, however, and I know they are keeping track of a list. When the formal announcement comes, I’ll describe more in detail what it’s about. Essentially, it’s a new, eye-candy rich gallery that is designed to drive traffic and attention to YOUR website, YOUR portfolio, or whatever site you might wish.

from the blog at www.stuckincustoms.com

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