Islington Council’s at it again—and with a spectacular finale to its bungled road width restriction scheme that I reported in my previous blog. It’s already caused several accidents and had to be demolished and redesigned at a total cost to local taxpayers of about £110,000. On top of that, the scheme gave rise to a potential Council liability of up to £1 million for about 10,000 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) illegally issued to drivers during a five-month period.
Now, a couple of days ago, I drove along the road where this monument to council waste was located and had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming—it had disappeared yet again! Leaving only a few faint traces of its existence on the road surface.
Apparently, it had been the cause of yet another accident, in which a driver was injured when her car hit one of the bollards and spectacularly flipped over (see the photo in the press report). This is the fourth accident involving this road feature in which a vehicle has actually overturned. The Leader of the Council, in response to this, ordered the immediate demolition of the width restriction on safety grounds and suggested that it contained ‘a design flaw’. Which of course begs the obvious question—why there was still such a flaw even after an expensive redesign?
This means that the entire exercise has been an utter and complete waste of money, entirely unjustifiable on any level. Additionally, there is now no longer even the prospect of the Council recouping any of the money it has squandered through issuing PCNs at the site in the future.
The Council’s only strategy for recovering this wasteful and entirely avoidable expenditure seems to be by—disgracefully, in my opinion—minimising the number of wrongfully penalised drivers making claims for refunds of their fines.
It is doing this by the simple expedient of refusing to notify any of these drivers of their entitlement to a refund, and by ensuring that the route for claiming refunds is as little publicised as possible. Tellingly, the wording on the council webpage says ‘If you have paid a fine at the Drayton Park width restriction, when Islington Council was enforcing between November 2012 and April 2013, Islington Council is refunding these as a gesture of goodwill.’
Goodwill! I am sure most people would have thought it a matter of natural justice and duty, rather than goodwill, but perhaps the Council’s wording does, in a way, serve a salutary purpose, which is to remind us that its basic mindset, relative to the hard pressed local taxpayers who have to fund it and its monumental incompetence, is one of indifference, if not actual contempt.