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ABD Mercia Blog
A blog on current events run by our Regional Co-ordinator for Mercia.

Petty enforcement of the absurd 30mph speed limit on Avon Road in Cannock. The road is separated from the houses by railings, and the opposite side is covered by undergrowth, so a 30mph limit is totally unjustified. They have clearly chosen this spot not because there's a safety issue, but because it's easy money.
We're also told that at the time this picture was taken, 3 men were robbing the Aldi store half a mile away of £400 in cash. Police Force? Farce more like.
2006-08-22
25,000 Speed Camera Fines Not Paid
During the financial year 2004..5, Staffordshire Safety Camera Partnership say they issued 70,000 speed camera fines, yet only 45,000 were paid directly.
4,500 people opted for a 'speed awareness course' costing £95.
The remaining 20,500 are said to be drivers who fought the ticket in court, tickets cancelled because the vehicle was a emergency vehicle on call, or 'untraceable foreign drivers'. That's a lot of court appearances, or a lot of emergency vehicles, or a lot of 'foreign vehicles', the press are trying to uncover which.
How can a ticket be 'issued' to an 'untraceable foreign driver'?

2006-08-18
7 Times More Cameras Than Police Traffic Cars
The ABD has attacked Staffordshire Police for their policy towards roads policing. Only 35 of Staffordshire Police's cars are being used to detect traffic offences. This compares to an absurd 260 speed cameras. Given that some of these cars will be off-shift, or being serviced, the ratio is in practice even higher.
Staffordshire scrapped it's traffic division in 1999, alledgedly to save money, though our police sources say that it was actually as a result of political moves within the police, which were driven by a government report that set out to criticize traffic divisions.
2006-08-08
MP Joins Forces With ABD Over Speed Limit Reductions
Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield, has joined the ABD in voicing concern over government plans to introduce widespread speed limit reductions in rural areas. In a news release Mr Fabricant said:
“ … lowering speed limits can cause crashes too. Staffordshire County Council and other Highway Authorities should be cautious about lowering speed limits on rural roads unnecessarily. … I agree with the Association of British Drivers' call for an independent watch-dog to set new speed limits — not local councils.”


A Staffs Talivan lurking over the A500 in Stoke looking to snare drivers travelling at a safe speed in a silly 30mph roadworks speed limit.
Petition Against A500 Talivans
One of the 5,500 drivers caught by Talivans enforcing the 30mph speed limit in roadworks on the A500 is to present a petition against the unreasonable speed limit enforcement. Ray Leese states that the Talivan has been targetting drivers as they leave the roadworks but where the 30mph speed limit continues unnecessarily. Some £300,000 has been raked in by the Talivans since the roadworks began.
To sign the petition, email Ray at admin20@btconnect.com
 
Dodgy Parking Enforcement
Thousands of parking fines issued by Stoke on Trent council since 2001 could be illegal. The council has been fining people for overdue parking on land it does not own. The car parks affected are Stoke-on-Trent College, the Potteries Shopping Centre, Octagon Retail Park in Etruria, Century Retail Park in Etruria, and outside Lidl in Longton.
 
 
ABD Complains to ASA over Speed Camera Ad
The ABD's Local Co-ordinator for Staffordshire has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority over an advertisement that claims speed cameras are "cutting deaths year on year" in the county.
The Sentinel — Advertising Authority Investigates Speed Camera Safety Claims
 
 
Drivers mugged of £2.4M in Staffs
During 2004, the Staffordshire Safety Camera Partnership extracted £2.4M from tens of thousands of drivers in Staffordshire, yet it was the third worst year for fatalities in the last ten years.
Kidsgrove Bank Cameras
The saga of the A50 Kidsgrove Bank gives an insight into how unscientific and the process of siting of cameras is. Councillor Margaret Astle campaigned for the 4 cameras, mainly due to one serious injury to one of her followers. In fact the casualty figures she supplied showed the road to be one of the safest in Staffordshire — no fatalities 1999-2004, no serious injuries in 2004, 1 in 2003, none 2001-2002. 4 slight injuries in 2004, and 2003 — the lowest since 1999. Tim Roberts of Staffs CRP seems to have found some more casualties that have bemused locals — 6 KSI (2 per year), 28 PIC's. 33% of vehicles exceeding the 30 mph speed limit.
We suspect casualties along the length of the A50 are being used, to justify cameras placed at sites unrelated to casualties. This, of course, allows the 'at camera sites' term to be used with respect to casualty reduction. Local camera supporters, including the local police sargeant are bemused by the siting of the cameras, none of which are placed where they expected. This seems to have lead to the FOI request. One camera may not now be commissioned — a waste of the estimated £30,000 installation cost.
 
Fatalities rose 26% in 2003
Despite the plague of speed cameras on Staffordshire's roads, and the continuing lies about their ‘success’, fatalies on Staffordshire's roads increased by 26% in 2003 compared to 2002. This was the worst percentage increase since 1994 and makes a mockery of the propaganda churned out by the Staffordshire ‘Safety’ Camera Partnership.
During the financial year 2002/3, £2.15 million was taken from drivers by the partnership.

Source: National Statistics — Road Casualties in Great Britain
 
Accident statistics for Staffordshire since 1992 are shown on the right. Whilst the number of fatalities can fluctuate significantly each year, it can be seen that there has been no overall reduction.
There is a reduction trend in the 'Serious' data, though this seems to have levelled off in the last five years or so. Whilst there is a slight reduction trend in the 'Slight' category, it can be seen that there has been no significant long term reduction.
 
Countless factors affect these figures, and these factors may interact with each other in complex ways:
• Bad weather (fog, snow, ice, rain, wind) tends to increase accidents.
• Fine weather may cause more people to go out, leading to an increase in accidents, conversely, bad weather may dissuade people from venturing out, reducing accidents.
• Constantly improving vehicle safety (e.g. air bags, ABS) will cause a gradual reduction in the severity of injuries.
• New and improved roads are likely to cause a reduction in accidents by taking traffic away from older, less safe roads.
• Road engineering improvements, when done properly, cause a reduction in accidents.
• Increased traffic is likely to cause an increase in accidents.
• The reduction in police traffic patrols is likely to result in worse overall behaviour, and more defective vehicles, thus increasing accidents.
• Improvements in medical treatment and emergency response times (e.g. air ambulance) will cause a reduction in the number of fatalities.
• The distinction between a 'Serious' injury and a 'Slight' injury is open to interpretation and manipulation. Between 1994 and 1995, 'Serious' injuries shot up by 129, yet 'Slight' injuries dropped by 176, in 1996 things went back the other way; was this purely due to a definition change? Today the definition of 'Serious' injury includes anything involving an overnight stay in hospital. That was not always the case, and even now may be affected simply by the availability of a hospital bed.

 
Partnership Continue Relentless Pursuit of Injustice
Staffs Camera Partnership are refusing to give up their attempt to prosecute a driver despite him having been cleared by a court. Ian Clayton was driving a skip lorry on the B5017 Henhurst Hill in Burton when he was flashed by a speed camera. The road has a 30mph speed limit. Mr Clayton is well acquainted with the road and knows about the speed camera, so he was somewhat surprised to receive a speeding ticket. He was even more surprised when he checked his tachograph and found he had been doing just 26mph.
He took the tachometer disk to court after pleading not guilty, and the CPS dropped the case, six months after the alledged incident.
However partnership boss Tim Roberts is calling on the CPS to re-open the case.
There have been a number of cases where speed cameras have given false readings, particularly when large vehicles are involved.
 
Overkill
Staffordshire has a staggering 267 speed cameras — that's 7.2% or 1/14th of all the cameras in the UK.
Yet it has less than 1.4% of the UK population*.
So why is Staffordshire infested with 5 times it's fair share of speed cameras?
At some £33,000 a piece that's £7¼ million pounds of public money spent.
Speed cameras have been installed at various locations throughout Staffordshire since at least 1997.
Yet despite the wild claims about huge reductions in accidents put out by the 'safety' camera propaganda machine, our graph shows clearly that they have failed to achieve any significant reduction in fatal accidents.
* Census 2001
‡ FOI request 2005

 
Facts not Fiction
The ABD is demanding detailed statistics about all the 242 fixed speed camera sites in Staffordshire.
There has been so much spin surrounding speed cameras that only a policy of total openness will allow speed cameras to retain any degree of credibility. Letters about speed cameras
 
 
Ambulance Staff Condemn Lichfield's Humps
"I think they are devastating. I do not think they should be put down."
Syd Harris, Driver for St Giles Hospice
"The use of speed humps does affect patients. No matter how careful the driver is, it's uncomfortable to go over speed bumps. Crews have to slow down and with something like a heart attack patient, every second is vital. Potentially speed humps may be life takers, not life savers."
Bob Lee, Staffordshire Ambulance Service
Lichfield Chronicle 2004-10-15

 
Community Service
Two men who vandalized 22 speed cameras on the A51 between Rugeley and Sandon have been sentenced to 200 hours community service. This seems strange as many people would consider they'd already done the community a service.
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
John F. Kennedy 1963
The A51 has in recent years seen a number of NSLA sections reduced to 50mph or even 40mph without good cause, however, the attacks appear to have been motivated purely by revenge following a speeding ticket, rather than being a political statement.
How were the men caught? They told a neighbour what they'd done — before checking out the neighbour's opinion of speed cameras. Duuuugh.
The safety camera pratnership made the usual daft claim that vandalizing speed cameras puts people lives at risk, and are joyfully using the incident to demand higher penalties for the specific crime of attacking their precious mugging machines.
 
Mayor Wants HOV on A500
Stoke Mayor Mike Wolfe wants to ban drivers from the outside lane of the A500 during rush hour, unless they have a passenger on board. He wants to adopt HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes which discriminate aginst drivers travelling alone. The A500 is a trunk road and so does not even come under the control of Stoke City Council.
Demonstrating his anti-car affiliations, Wolfe raised his plan at a meeting of environmental groups, including Transport 2000 (which is backed by bus and rail companies), but he doesn't appear to have discussed it with any of his colleagues beforehand — so much for democracy in Stoke. He sounds very much like another Ken Livingstone in the making.
Since this story broke we've been told that Wolfe is now claiming that he did not say he wanted to put a bus lane on the A500, and the paper simply misquoted him.
 
Tell Mike Wolfe what you think: mayormike@stoke.gov.uk

Another speed limit reduction
The speed limit on the A453 running up to the old A5 at Mile Oak has been reduced from 50 to 40. This is despite the fact that there are only houses on one side of the road, and official guidelines recommend a 50 limit. We understand that some local residents campaigned for the reduction. Drivers, of course, were not consulted.
 
 
Speed Humps Delay Ambulances
"Ambulance paramedics are becoming increasingly concerned that measures taken to prevent road accidents are having a far greater detrimental impact on their ability to save lives and are potentially putting at risk far more lives than the measures are intended to save."
Staffordshire Ambulance Service
Evening Mail — Ambulance crews concerned over bumps
 
 

Staffordshire's Recipe for 'Speed Camera Surprise':
• Select a nice straight trunk road (for example the former A5 between Lichfield & Tamworth).
• Start a 40mph speed limit several hundred metres before there's any justification for it.
• Carefully position one Gatso speed camera behind a tree.
• Apply one small yellow reflective strip so you can claim to be complying with visibility guidelines.
• Allow tree branches to grow so as to further obscure camera.
• Rake in the money.
Map with location arrowed
Greed Cameras Condemned by ex-Cop
A former Staffordshire Police traffic officer, and member of a team appointed to handle the increase in speed cameras, has condemned the spread of speed cameras and accused the government of mis-using them to make money rather than improve road safety. Steve Walsh joins other police officers around the country in a growing tide of police opposition to 'greed cameras' that are alienating the public from the police.
Daily Telegraph — 'These are greed cameras, not speed cameras'
 
 
Ever Diminishing Speed Limits
Staffordshire seem to have a particular fondness for reducing speed limits unnecessarily. NSLA roads have been reduced to 50mph, and speed cameras installed (A5, A51). They've also reduced some rural dual carriageways to 60mph (A34, A51) often again enforced by speed cameras. 40mph limits have been imposed on what are basically bypasses with no buildings alongside them (Lichfield, Rugeley). Much of Cannock Chase has been made a 40mph zone (previously NSLA) supposedly because of deer wandering onto the roads.
Keep an eye on your local paper for those elusive speed limit reductions notices, and see our guide on how to object to unnecessary speed limit reductions.
 
 
Excessive Pedestrianization
Tamworth town centre has been pedestrianized to such an extent that getting into it by car has become virtually impossible. In the evening it becomes a ghost town inhabited only by 'sk8er boys'. Local businesses are now up in arms about vandalism occurring late at night because the centre is so deserted.
 
 
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