Ex-Merton Council traffic warden lifts the lid on parking practices
A former traffic warden has described parking enforcement as a “money-making machine” in which his former employees would ruthlessly issue tickets despite not being on commission or bonuses.
The former employee, who worked for Merton Council for several years, described a variety of techniques used including “hot spotting”, in which officers will ignore residents parking zones and focus on pay and display bays.
He said: “The expectation is that, if you are on an area such as Worple Road in Wimbledon, you wouldn’t worry too much about checking residential bays.
“Instead you check the pay and display on Worple Road and Mansel Road where the school is and keep going backwards and forwards because you are, on average, likely to find the most tickets there.
“It’s an unwritten law. If you concentrate on pay and display around that area, you’re not going round other roads checking who’s illegally parking in residential bays, so residents get a worse service because of hot spotting.
“You would never find a document on it or anyone that would admit to it.”
In recent years, many residents have complained to the Wimbledon Guardian about traffic wardens being over-zealous in giving out tickets.
In October 2010, Merton Council was criticised for using "underhand tactics" after their traffic wardens were driving around in an "old banger" and issued a ticket within one minute, before the motorist had a chance to buy a permit.
And last week, we highlighted a case where a CCTV enforcement van had parked on double yellow lines to catch out cars stopped in a box junction in Merton Park.
Merton Council states clearly on its website that “no targets are given and no bonuses are paid” to parking officers.
But, the former employee said, colleagues did not need such incentives to issue fines.
He explained: “There was always a few that would do anything to get on the other side the road to issue this parking ticket and you think to yourself ‘why’?
“If you dash across the road and you get run over the authority will wash their hands of you.
“The motorist would be mortified because you have run out in front of the car, but they would do it.”
In 2011, a five-minute grace period, which allowed the motorists time to purchase another ticket or return to their car after their ticket expired, was reduced to two minutes.
But our informant said there was nothing to stop officers ignoring this guideline, which is devised to allow for discrepancies in timekeeping because of differences in the clocks.
He said: “A lot of people will see your ticket is expiring at 2pm and give you a ticket at 2pm. They probably won’t check in the office.
“There should be a random check of everybody’s tickets but they don’t care because it’s money and it’s only a policy – a guideline.”
The revelations came as the council admitted 5,007 tickets were wrongly issued in 2010-11 – nearly 10 per cent of the total issued of 58,642.
The former parking warden said: “Of the 53,000 tickets that people paid how many of those tickets were issued incorrectly and people didn’t complain because they didn’t know? It’s just a money-making game.”
A Merton Council spokeswoman said: “We work hard to make sure all PCNs issued are accurate, but we respond to legitimate representations and cancel them where appropriate.”
This story is part of the Wimbledon Guardian's PARKING MADNESS series, in which we call on readers to help us promote a just and transparent system of parking enforcement in Merton.
Asda set to double mobile commerce sales in next six months - CIO UK
The UK’s second largest supermarket, Asda, has said that it plans to double the number of sales it receives through mobile commerce over the next six months.
Asda’s iPhone application was launched six months ago and has since received more than half a million downloads. This was followed by the launch of an Android application one month ago, which has received 75,000 downloads.
Some six percent of its grocery orders are now placed via a mobile device, which will double in the next six months, according to the supermarket.
“Gone are the days when we could label a customer as either a traditional or a dot-com shopper. Customers don’t think in terms of channels or devices, they want to shop with ease, compare prices at the touch of a button, and pick up a product or have it delivered with the minimum of fuss,” said Judith McKenna, Asda’s chief operating officer.
“As a result, the world of retailing is being transformed at a remarkable rate and opening up exciting opportunities for retailers like ourselves.”
Asda has also revealed that it has an iPad application ‘in the pipeline’ and that it is planning to deploy in-store QR codes to enable customers to obtain additional product information, as well as customer reviews and ratings.
It was revealed last month that Asda is also planning to trial contactless payment technology in 25 of its stores from July onwards.
The contactless payment systems will be provided by both Visa and payment value chain specialist streamline, which claim that the technology helps retailers to reduce costs associated with cash handling.
Sussex prayer decision heads to arbitration - Delaware Wave
GEORGETOWN ---- The question of what public prayers can be offered during Sussex County Council meetings may be decided in a fourth-floor Wilmington conference room this morning.
A U.S. magistrate judge ordered the Sussex County Council and a group of residents suing the county, claiming council's ritual recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of its meetings is a constitutionally banned establishment of religion, to send representitives to mediation conferences. The first is scheduled for today and another could take place on June 14 if the first meeting doesn't lead to an agreement.
The talks come three weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Leonard P. Stark issued an injunction barring the council from leading the crowds at their meetings in reciting the Lord's Prayer. Four Sussex County residents, one of them a Lutheran pastor, had sued to stop the practice because they argued it was an uncomfortably blatant endorsement of Christianity by the government. Sussex County defended its ritual, saying it meant to give no preference to any religion and that the plaintiffs hadn't proven the the practice harmed them.
Stark issued a ruling May 15 that didn't end the lawsuit outright, but favored the plaintiffs and put Sussex on the defensive. The judge noted he was "likely to conclude that the Council's practice... constitutes government endorsement of the Christian faith," and he encouraged the two sides to agree to mediation. Other government bodies around the country, Stark said, use more amorphous prayers than the Lord's Prayer which don't run afoul of the Constitution's establishment clause, or invite a rotating cast of preachers and worshipers to recite prayers at public meetings. By June 15, Stark said in mid-May, the council had to change its ways.
A letter to Stark from an attorney for the four plaintiffs, telling him the two sides were ready to have a mediator hold settlement talks in the Mullin v. Sussex County case, says Sussex County wanted the June 15 deadline pushed back because "30 days will be insufficient to complete the settlement negotiations."
But the plaintiffs' attorneys, which include Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said it is "perfectly feasible for the parties to reach an agreement in time for the Council to approve an agreement at its June 5th or June 12th meeting," and discouraged Stark from extending the deadline. The court record doesn't indicate that Stark altered the June 15 date.
Sussex County spokesman Chip Guy said Council President Michael H. Vincent would represent the county at Friday's conference, along with attorneys.
At the May 22 County Council meeting, the first one held after Stark's order was published, council members said nothing about the order looming over them. They began the meeting with the Lord's Prayer as usual, just before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and then voting to approve the day's agenda.
Wimbledon Village Fair prepares for challenge - Croydon Guardian
Wimbledon Village Fair prepares for 'Big Red Balls' challenge
Twenty thousand visitors are expected to flock to Wimbledon Common later this month to enjoy a free day of music, food, and even big inflatable red balls.
The annual Wimbledon Village Fair, organised by charity The Wimbledon Guild, will boast over 200 craft stalls, two food villages and a farmer’s market.
They have also promised dog and horse shows, live music and children’s entertainment including pony rides, Zorb Balls and human table football.
Food lovers will be able to indulge in everything from burgers, hog roast and paella to Thai, Moroccan, Hakka Chinese and Indian cuisine in the fair’s international and British food villages.
The fair will be officially opened at 11am by former Dancing on Ice contestant, free runner and James Bond Actor, Sebastien Foucan.
Foucan, who appeared in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale as Mollaka, will also be taking part in this year’s ‘Big Red Balls’ challenge, based on the BBC1’s Total wipeout show where contestants must jump from one inflatable giant red ball to the next without falling off.
Anyone who can beat Foucan’s time will receive a prize and he will be available for photo opportunities and autographs at the Wimbledon Guild’s Tea Garden at 12pm.
A charity raffle will also take place offering prizes including restaurant vouchers, theatre tickets and spa treatments.
Anna Cullen-Crouch, fundraising manager at the Wimbledon Guild, said: "We are so grateful to everyone who is involved including our sponsors, the volunteers, the stall holders, every member of staff from the Guild and all who help make this event the fabulous day it is".
Wimbledon Village Fair; June 23; 10.30 to 5.30pm; FREE; 020 8946 0735; info@wimbledonguild;co.uk;wimbledonguild.co.uk
Middlesex in control at Hove - SkySports
Solid contributions all the way down the order allowed Middlesex to claim a first-innings advantage of 208 over Sussex on day three at Hove.
The visitors advanced from 229-3 to 491 all out, although the day did not start so positively when Chris Rogers, on 93 overnight, missed out on a century.
Rogers was lbw to Luke Wright for 98 in the fifth over but Eoin Morgan (74), John Simpson (34), Gareth Berg (45), Ollie Rayner (69) and Toby Roland-Jones (52) all chipped in with useful runs.
Rayner and Roland-Jones rammed home their side's advantage with a ninth-wicket stand of 76, while part-time spinner Chris Nash picked up 3-45 in 10 overs after his belated introduction to the Sussex attack.
Middlesex paceman Steven Finn removed Ed Joyce before bad light ended play 12 overs early with Sussex on 34-1 in their second innings, a deficit of 174 heading into the final day.
Stand-in skipper Chris Rogers led a strong Middlesex reply on day two against Sussex at Lord's.
The Australian opener finished on 93 not out in a Middlesex total of 229-3, a deficit of 54 with plenty of batting still to come.
Rogers, captaining Middlesex in the County Championship for the time being to allow Neil Dexter to focus on his batting, was given good support from Joe Denly (67) during a second-wicket stand of 145.
And he was later joined by Eoin Morgan (52no) in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 77.
Sussex had gone from an overnight 242-8 to 283 all out in the morning session, Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh finishing with 5-55.
Ed Joyce and Ben Brown led a Sussex fightback after Middlesex had threatened to bowl them out cheaply on day one at Lord's.
Tim Murtagh took three early wickets with the new ball after Sussex skipper Mike Yardy had won the toss and elected to bat, and finished with figures of 4- 41.
Steven Finn also picked up two wickets as Sussex slumped to 33-4 and 66-5 before Joyce and Brown began the recovery. Finn, by the close, had 3-65.
Joyce made 77 in a partnership of 81 with Brown, who went on to add 63 with Naveed Arif Gondal before falling for 70 as Sussex reached 242-8 by the end of play. Gondal made 38.
Sussex close on second overseas signing (From The Argus) - The Argus.co.uk
Sussex close on second overseas signing
Sussex’s search for a second overseas signing for the Friend’s Life T20 competition appears to be over.
The county have agreed a deal with a player and are waiting for it to be ratified by his governing body, with an announcement expected in the next couple of days.
The Sharks confirmed the signing of New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris four months ago but have faced a number of setbacks in their pursuit of a second big name with the first game against Kent just 11 days away.
Coach Mark Robinson is keeping tight-lipped about the identity of the player but it is believed the target is a bowler – with Australian paceman Doug Bollinger one possibility.
Bollinger is available having been omitted from the Australia one-day squad for the tour of England later this month and has recently been playing in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings.
The 30-year-old has played 12 Tests, 39 ODIs and two international T20s for Australia but has been out of the squad since last October.
Meanwhile, Sussex endured another tough day at Lord’s yesterday in their County Championship clash with Middlesex.
Chris Rogers made an unbeaten 93 as Middlesex reached 229-3 at the close having bowled out Sussex for 283 in the morning.