A CASH-strapped Council is targeting motorists with traffic officers patrolling residential streets in the dead of night.
The move by Thurrock Council has been roundly condemned by some councillors, who say the authority is penalising residents while letting visiting rogue lorry drivers go free.
It has also come as a surprise to YourThurrock after we interviewed Portfolio Holder for Public Protection, Gerard Rice in May who informed us that he had made the decision to stop such actions.
The late night patrols came to light on Monday evening when a vehicle belonging to the son of Enquirer editor Neil Speight was ticketed at 2.58 in the morning on a side street near his home.
“To be honest I was staggered,” he said. “I cannot contest the ticket as the vehicle was parked overlapping a double yellow line, though there was nowhere else to park it other than on the main road outside my house where not only would it have been something of an obstacle to passing buses and lorries on a narrow but busy road, but we have been blighted with ‘boy racers’ causing damage to parked cars, road signs and bollards.
“Only on Saturday evening was there a fairly major incident when a speeding car lost control, hitting the kerb and veering all over the road having smashed a wheel.
“My son’s car wasn’t parked until 1am in the morning and as I was using it to go to work at 6am, it was a conscious decision to park it, albeit partially on yellow lines, on a dead end side street which has very little traffic. Yes it was about 12 yards from the junction, but it wasn’t causing an obstruction or a problem for any other residents, most of whom would have been in bed.
“I can’t believe it is anything other than a money-making exercise by the Council, but I can’t believe it to be a financially effective one – putting staff on the road overnight can’t be cheap – and I wonder how that squares with the authority having to cut staff for frontline services in the daytime. Tell that to a pensioner not getting her lunch … it appears to be deals on wheels, not meals on wheels!”
That also appeared to be the view of a cross section of councillors.
Little Thurrock ‘Concerned Conservative’ Cllr Stuart St Clair-Haslam has been a long time crusader against rogue lorries parked on his residents’ patch and he was surprised to learn of the Council’s night time patrols.
“I was told there was wholesale resistance from Council staff to going out at night and that it would not be happening. Given that it now appears to be happening, it is clearly ridiculous that enforcement officers are out and about in the dead of night targeting residents in a part of the borough where there are very few traffic issues, while in places like Aveley, West Thurrock, Purfleet and in my own ward of Little Thurrock there are massive problems will illegal lorry parking and residents’ lives are being made a misery, yet you will see not hide nor hair of a traffic officer!.”
His fellow ward councillor and residents’ rights activist, Conservative Rob Gledhill, was also surprised, adding: “As councillors we haven’t been told about this. We have lorries causing a nuisance through the night right on residents’ doorsteps but the officers tell us the Council can’t afford to take enforcement action against them, but it appears they are back on the road penalising residents. It doesn’t seem right and I will be looking into this.”
However, a spokseman for the Council, which is being forced to cut millions from its budget, said it was only responding to public demand, adding: “There have been many requests for night time patrols.
“When we recently had to suspend them due to staff shortages we had many complaints from residents and councillors. The enforcement operations, while not profit making, are self-funding.”