Director admits £12m sums on ANPR fines don’t add up

Fisher’s Folly’s answer to Baldrick has come up with a cunning plan to help fix the bankrupt borough’s finances: raise millions of pounds through penalty charges on Croydon’s drivers.
The trouble is, some drivers might simply follow the warning signs and the cash-strapped council won’t make as much as it needs. Town Hall correspondent KEN LEE reports

Big Brother is watching: but Croydon drivers are already learning how to avoid £65 fines

The council’s ambitious target of raising an extra £4million per year extra through fixed penalty notices charged on drivers caught committing offences by Big Brother-style Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras could yet come unstuck – essentially because the borough’s motorists are not as stupid as a senior council official thought they might be.

Steve Iles is the council’s “director of public realm”, so is responsible for the tacky state of many of our streets, as well as the overflowing bins, the tons of residents’ carefully sorted recycling that is going straight to the incinerator, and the poorly implemented Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that have caused such angst and controversy.

It was Iles’ unique genius which led to Croydon somehow deciding to give rubbish contractors Veolia a £21million “uplift” on their contract last year, in the middle of the cash-strapped council’s financial crisis, a payment boost which has resulted in no appreciable improvement in the service provided during the borough’s waste collections or road sweeping efforts.

And it was Iles’ bright idea that the council could make an extra £11.8million over three years simply by installing ANPR cameras at key locations on the borough’s roads, then sitting back and counting the cash as the money from £65 automatically generated fines would just roll in. Kerr-ching!

Steve Iles: his £12m in ANPR fines is already looking fanciful

Except nothing is ever quite so simple.

The issue arose at a recent meeting of the council’s streets, homes and environment scrutiny committee.

The elected councillors on the committee were examining forecast revenue streams from the Iles’ public realm directorate over the three-year timescale of the council’s “Medium Term Financial Strategy”, the financial plan which was drawn up earlier this year by council chief exec Katherine Kerswell and the then interim finance chief Chris Buss, designed to get the council’s finances back on an even keel.

The meeting was not considering the objectives or merits of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or the council’s enforcement strategy in LTNs. Nor was it considering the merits, or otherwise, of using motorists as cash cows to help balance the council’s budget.

Its only consideration was how accurate the predicted revenue streams in the Medium Term Financial Strategy might be. Was the data at all reliable? Or had someone in Fisher’s Folly just come up with a number, doubled it, and passed it off as a reasonable projection and a professional piece of work?

One Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon: “Relying on errant motorists in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to contribute nearly £12million to balance the council’s budgets is very high risk.

“It will leave a multi-million-pound hole in the council’s budget if motorists do wise up and avoid the penalty charges.

“How would this shortfall be met? What contingency plan is there in the council’s budget if motorists do indeed wise up?”

Iles told the meeting that the £11.8million of “income growth particularly from camera enforcement” had been “built in” to his three-year budget forecast.

This, though, was not allowed to slip past so easily by Robert Canning, the Labour councillor for Waddon ward.

Canny: Labour councillor Robert Canning

Canning is a former civil servant, so has always had a decent understanding of how some in the public sector work. “Is there a risk that motorists will start complying with restrictions that apply, so the revenue that we are predicting for the next three years won’t actually be obtained because motorists wise up to the restrictions and start complying?” canny Canning asked.

“Is that something we need to worry about?”

Iles was forced to admit that “there is a risk of compliance”. Yes, that’s right: there is a chance that the public will be public-spirited, do their public duty and follow road signs properly.

Iles claimed that his officials had “factored” in the “significant hike” in income from motoring fines, but sounded hopeful that the APNR cameras would help fulfil their budget projections. Over the course of three years, for Iles’ income predictions to come true, he needs more than 180,000 driving offences to be committed and fined.

No through road: Croydon is looking to cameras for road control

“It’s expected that people will not comply straight away, despite all of the associated signs,” Iles said.

It may not be surprising that there are doubts over how Iles will make his sums add up: the council currently has just a single ANPR camera operating in one LTN.

Croydon needs the road fine cash to help pay for the borough’s Freedom Pass concessionary public transport fare scheme for pensioners.

Croydon has been awarded £975,000 to create seven LTNs, part of the Tory government’s “green transport revolution” to promote walking and cycling. But on-going funding for ANPRs from the Department of Transport and Transport for London “remains uncertain”, according to the presentation made to the council committee.

“The council will incur costs of removing the schemes” if they are abandoned, the councillors were told.

A Croydon Council press officer told the Daily Torygraph: “The purpose of our healthy neighbourhoods is foremost to address concerns related to the climate crisis and active lifestyles.

“Enabling walking and cycling is a key priority for the council, and a major goal of Transport for London and the Department for Transport when providing funding for these schemes.

“Any surplus income from penalty charge notices in relation to these schemes goes towards transport and environmental initiatives, including the Freedom Pass for the over-65s and those with disabilities.”

Read more: I paid my LTN fine. I won’t be returning to the town centre soon
Read more: Broad Green driver has 12 penalty notices dropped by council
Read more: Taking a U-turn on road measures risks a traffic accident


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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11 Responses to Director admits £12m sums on ANPR fines don’t add up

  1. Maverick says:

    Oh dear ! Iles is at it again, every time I see or hear about him I think that some poor village must be missing their idiot.

    After his many cockups, how can he still survive in such a sennior role? I think he has shown his true colours this time when trying to generate extra revenue, he sees the residents of Croydon as the cash cow !

  2. These drivers need to make their minds up. First they moan that they can’t see signs displaying the speed limit or telling them where they’re not allowed to go. Then they complain they’re being used as cash cows. Now they’re whining that not enough of them will break the law.

  3. Liz says:

    I agree entirely, this clown is supposed to serve the people of Croydon, but all he does is ridicule and penalise them at every given opportunity. He really is the lowest of the low. He should go back to working in the Council stores room where he came from, but wait, apparently he was shite at that as well!

  4. Micky Davies says:

    Hear, hear, what a complete pratt this individual is, how on earth has he made it to Director level? Firstly i hope that Croydon Council improve the warning signage at these locations, as it is in very small lettering, on signs very high up and not prominent at all. Secondly, i hope that the motorists of Croydon, and those passing through, comply with these, no matter how annoying they are, so that this idiot has egg on his face at the end of the year.

  5. Dave Russell says:

    “director of public realm” – what on Earth does that mean? Someone needs to learn English!
    These aggrandising titles – “portfolio holder”, “cabinet member” and so on, just make them sound even more stupid than they are.

  6. Lewis White says:

    I would like the Government to bring in special signage for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, School Zones and certain Town Centre zones.

    This would incorporate the incredibly cutting -edge, thinking outside the box type concept, of using things called “words” into the signage, as well as obscure pictographs of low-flying motor cycles and 1950’s German automobiles, and cameras

    For example, imagine driving down a road in a typical suburban area, and then seeing a sign bearing the words, in English, as well as the pictographs

    SCHOOL ZONE 200 mtrs
    – RESTRICTED ENTRY

    or
    LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOOD 200mtrs
    — RESTRICTED ENTRY

    Plus similar signs at the entry , minus the distance advice, mounted lower where motorists in smaller cars can actually see them.

    Motorists have their work cut out watching for pedestrians, children and urbn foxes running out from between parked cars. Simple, clear signage giving pre-warnings about restricted zones is only being fair to the motorist.

    Cynically designed cash-cow milking, camera wielding schemes are only fair if the zones are properly posted, but the element of surprise would of course be gone. Revenues would drop.

    If fines are needed to replace money once granted by Central Governmemt, why not put cameras in 20 mph zones, and catch people speeding ?.

    This would yield Croydon about £ 1 million a week, maybe 2 !!

    • Angus Hewlett says:

      Minor but important technical point.. councils cannot keep the money from 20mph enforcement cameras, it has to go to the Treasury. (They can keep the money from parking fines but NOT speeding fines, hence the former – usually fairly harmless – gets enforced, and the latter – much more harmful – gets ignored).

  7. Ian Kierans says:

    Thank you Mr Canning. It is good to know that someone is asking those questions.

    But is it not funny that this Council never sees (maybe willfully ignores?) the correlation between the poor road design and regulations along with the failure to enforce – and the rise in dangerous driving, road rage, violence, assaults, hit and runs, vehicle damage, fender bending and a massive increase in drivers breaking the highway code.
    They also do not see the correlation between emergency response times and their antic’s

    Much easier to pass the parcel and save resources – transfer the cost to insurance or victims.

    What is the answer from them – more ANPR to subsidise the debt they ran up?

  8. Dave Spart says:

    A number of people get to senior positions because no one else had the relevant experience or wanted the job. When recruiting it’s always preferable to promote people, unfortunately that process promotes some of the most stupid and undeserving.

    • Dave Russell says:

      The Peter Principle says that people get promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. So ably demonstrated in Croydon Council.

  9. Croydon needs the road fine cash to help pay for the borough’s Freedom Pass concessionary public transport fare scheme for pensioners.

    On a recent leaflet I received, it stated that Hamida Ali had protected free travel for over-65s and 18-24 year olds.

    Does this mean one of the statements is incorrect?

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