Driver rages at Town Hall's use of technology

BEWARE, Big Brother is watching you. Ray Gardner, 57, is among a growing number of motorists handed a new breed of parking tickets, known as ghost tickets, issued not by a warden but remotely by CCTV. Thirty four councils, including Barking & Dagenham,

BEWARE, Big Brother is watching you. Ray Gardner, 57, is among a growing number of motorists handed a new breed of parking tickets, known as "ghost" tickets, issued not by a warden but remotely by CCTV.

Thirty four councils, including Barking & Dagenham, are using new powers that some say are bringing us closer to a surveillance state and generating �3million of fines each year.

The AA has slammed the practice that makes it more difficult for drivers to challenge fines. They are secretly captured on camera and receive fines by post two weeks later.

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Mr Gardner, of Cavendish Gardens, Barking, says his �60 ticket, given for stopping by a pedestrian crossing for just 30 seconds, was a "travesty of justice" and warned CCTV systems are becoming a law unto themselves.

The retired TV engineer insists he did not breach the Highway Code as he broke sharply in front of a car with reverse lights to avoid a potential crash, then stopped momentarily to let it move off.

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But Barking & Dagenham Council said it carefully reviewed its CCTV clips and would not issue a fine if a motorist had a good reason to stop, adding Mr Gardner's Rover estate was parked on zig-zag lines that sought to improve traffic flow and protect pedestrians.

Mr Gardner threw in the towel and paid the October 31 fine after losing his appeal.

AA president Edmund King said: "We regard them as 'ghost tickets' because drivers are unaware of their alleged offence for some time afterwards.

"These tickets are very hard to challenge because drivers are in no position to check the roadside signs or whether the ticket was issued by mistake."

Mr Gardner said: "These situations desperately need to be made clear before the CCTV system becomes a law unto itself - assuming that isn't happening already.

"More than ever I speak to people who are heavily fined for minor unintentional mistakes."

A Barking & Dagenham Council spokesman said: "If a driver feels they have been unfairly treated they can go through the appeals process.

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