New number plate enforcement cameras introduced by York Police

North Yorkshire Poanpr cameralice has stepped up the fight against travelling criminals with the introduction of a new generation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

As part of a £1m investment in ANPR announced last year, the first phase of the new, moveable cameras – known as re-deployable cameras – has been rolled out across North Yorkshire.

The cameras use the very latest technology which produces enhanced images and the ability to capture distinguishing marks on a vehicle.

North Yorkshire Police are the first police force in the UK to use this model of ANPR camera.

ANPR works by reading the registration number of a vehicle, and after checking the number against a database of information, will issue an alarm if the vehicle is linked to criminality.

It is used by the police to prevent and detect crime, as part of ongoing investigations, post-incident investigations, as well as helping in the search for vulnerable missing people, wanted criminals and to target uninsured and untaxed vehicles. 


More spy cameras around in York

Criminals warned as £1m Camerahi-tech crime-fighting project steps up

North Yorkshire Police’s £1m hi-tech investment programme to tackle travelling criminals is gaining momentum with the opening of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Hub.

ACC Kennedy in ANPR Hub

The ANPR Hub is based in the Force Control Room with dedicated staff who will monitor and assess real time information relating to vehicles identified as being connected to criminality and build up intelligence about their movements.

This latest move is part of an ongoing £1m investment in ANPR which also includes new, rapidly deployable cameras, more mobile cameras, fixed site cameras and in-car cameras as well as the fitting of ANPR cameras to some of the force’s mobile safety cameras and the introduction of a second Road Crime Team.

North Yorkshire Police already uses ANPR which has proved to be a highly effective tool, particularly in support of Operation Hawk, the force’s campaign to protect our communities from travelling and cross-border offenders.

York Council loses Coppergate fines appeal

Another £400,000 to be paid out to fined motoristsCamera

The traffic adjudicator has rejected the York Councils appeal over fines issued for breaches of the  Coppergate access restrictions.

It means that drivers who were caught and fined during the trial period (August 2013 – March 2014) on the route will be entitled to have the fines repaid.

It also puts paid to any idea that the Council may have of switching its spy cameras back on.

The Council may have a right of appeal to the High Court over the ruling but it seems unlikely that the new Councillors, who are due to be elected on 7th May, will pursue that costly option.

In total over £2 million was unlawfully taken  by the York Council in fines on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

Even when it was clear (after only 6 weeks) that the trial had gone badly wrong and should therefore be suspended, prominent Labour Councillor Dave Merrett refused to suspend the restrictions.

His chances of re-election on 7th May must now be fading along with the hopes of other Labour Cabinet members who also failed to act to end the scandal.

Both major opposition parties have promised a full public inquiry into the circumstances which led the Council to act unlawfully. Labour declined to hold such an inquiry when they were in office, with Green Councillors also voting against a probe for the truth.


Government to give extra £1 million to help sort out York’s transport problems

Lendal Bridge recriminations continue

Lendal bridge without traffic

Lendal bridge without traffic

York been awarded a further £1million by the Department for Transport as a dispute about who paid for the Lendal Bridge trial has surfaced.

Refund decision- who decides and when?

None of the Council’s decision making bodies has considered a proposal to repay Lendal Bridge fines. It is merely a proposal to creep out for a “behind closed doors” meeting of the Labour Group. It is a key decision but does not appear in the Councils forward plan. The last time the Council considered the issue Labour Councillors combined to vote down a request for an independent scrutiny review of the failings of, and lessons to be learned from, the Lendal and Coppergate trials.

Now a decision date will have to be set and a report on the methodology – and costs – of setting up a refund system will have to be written and published. The ultimate success of a proposal to repay fines is not in doubt, as both Opposition parties (LibDem and Tory) have previously called for the refunds to be made. There is considerable doubt, though, about when such payments might start and what paperwork vehicle owners may be expected to complete.

How much did it cost and who pays?

The present government allows Local Authorities a large measure of devolution on transport spending priorities and last year the Councils Labour Leadership chose to spend some grant money on access restriction hardware (such as ANPR cameras).

This totalled around £100,000 and is money that has now effectively been lost. The latest grant allocation (see below) was made before the York Council made its announcement about refunding Lendal Bridge fines, so it remains to be seen whether the fiasco will adversely impact on future transport funding allocations for the City.

The vast majority of the costs of the Lendal Bridge and Coppergate schemes were funded by fine income. The detail was reported to the Cabinet earlier in the month Click here for report Para 23 makes it clear that £1.756 million in fine income had been received by the end of March. Administrative costs were £718,000. In the main, those were the costs of enforcement and processing the FPNs. The Council has never revealed how much it was charged by the Peterborough based company that it used to process the fine notifications.

LTP3 – What did it say?

Some commentators are also claiming the the Local Transport Plan (LTP3), submitted to government in 2010 when the Council was LibDem led, somehow prompted the Lendal Bridge access restriction trial. The plan can still be viewed on the Council’s web site click here

The Plan does suggest a trial which would have given public transport priority on Ouse Bridge (not Lendal Bridge) in the medium term (2019). However that was conditional on other network improvements being completed – notably to to the northern by pass and to Park and Ride facilities – in the interim. The Labour Leadership must accept full responsibility for trying to bounce an ill considered Lendal Bridge scheme, onto an unsuspecting public, before even the two new Park and Ride sites had been completed.

£1 million more from Government

We hope that the Council will get back to basics and ensure that there is full public discussion of their plans for the use of this money. They have gone backwards recently with the removal of card payment options at the Maygate car park, travellers can no longer look on the web to see which car parks are full and on street visual display boards are often not working.

Well used sub-urban bus stops still don’t have real time “next bus arriving” screens yet.

All are issues that need addressing before anymore money is squandered on “vanity” projects

Lendal Bridge and Coppergate – York Council stopped issuing fine notices at the end of March

Coppergate restrictions still not being enforced

ANPR fine notices issued Click to access

ANPR fine notices issued Click to access

A Freedom of Information response has revealed that the York Council stopped issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) – using its ANPR camera information – on 30th March 2014.

That is a week earlier than they admitted in the media at the time.

The figures cast doubts on the claims being made by Labour Councillors early in April when they said the controversial restrictions were still being enforced.

A few days later, senior Council officials clamed that the number of notices issued had been “scaled back” but declined to say by how much or in what way.

In reality it seems that the camera enforcement was abandoned even before the Lendal Bridge restrictions were formally jettisoned on 12th April.

The situation on Coppergate appears to be different, at least in so far as the restrictions remain in place.

However no PCNs have been issued on Coppergate for over 6 weeks.

Contrary to claims made in the media (that the number of drivers ignoring the restrictions was reducing), the latest figures reveal that during March around 50 motorists a day were still being fined on Coppergate.

Things were little better on Lendal Bridge where 2135 motorists were caught on camera during March alone.

The Lendal Bridge trial closure had been due to conclude at the end of February and the Labour Council leadership was heavily criticised for not suspending camera enforcement until the results of the trial had been assessed.

In total 74,000 transgressions had been identified by the cameras before they were abandoned at the end of March.



The Council is now awaiting the results of its appeal against the Traffic Adjudicators ruling that both sets of restrictions were unlawful. If the Council fails to win, then it could face costs of over £1 million with many drivers likely to seek the return of unlawfully imposed fines.

The Appeal could take several more weeks to be concluded.

An Inquiry into the collapse of the whole project is expected to start in the summer using the Council’s “scrutiny” mechanisms.

Although the camera evidence is no longer being used on Coppergate, the restrictions there could – in theory – be enforced by a uniformed police officer.

Lendal Bridge restrictions – Why no public report?

Council Forward Programme click to enlarge

Council Forward Programme click to enlarge

The Council published late yesterday their decision notice on lifting the Lendal bridge traffic restrictions. It referred to a meeting which had taken place a week earlier.

The notice that the meeting would take place was also published yesterday (which is no help for residents trying to follow the Byzantine meanderings of the Councils processes)

The Council claims that the decision was taken under “delegated powers” by the Council Leader acting alone.

The decision notice does not include any background report (which is in itself highly unusual given that the last Council meeting was prevented from discussing the issue because “all the facts weren’t available”)

The Decision has not been labelled as “key” meaning that it cannot be called in for consideration by an ”all party” committee.

However a decision on the Lendal Bridge issues was, and is, due to be made by the Cabinet on 6th May 2014.

Key decision items have to be included in what is known as the Forward Plan and an entry was made for this policy item.

It confirms that it is a “key” decision.

The Councils Monitoring Officer needs to explain these inconsistencies, and pretty quickly.

No one doubts that officers could have switched off the ANPR cameras at least when their use was found to be unlawful.

But a decision to revoke the traffic order required an approach in line with the published Forward Programme.

It is likely that the Local Government Ombudsman would take a dim view of the Councils manoeuvres.

In the meantime the Council should agree to set up a scrutiny committee to look into the irregularties.

Lendal Bridge to be reopened

Lendal bridge - always been busy at 5;00pm

Lendal bridge – always been busy at 5;00pm

No matter how much Labour may spin their decision to scrap the access restrictions on Lendal bridge they still have a lot of questions to answer.

Around 80,000 motorists want to know when their unlawfully imposed fines will now be refunded?

Residents will want to know why the ANPR cameras were not turned off at the end of the trial period (28th February) ?

Why has there has been no announcement on the future of the Coppergate restrictions?

Who will take responsibility for the mistakes?

The Lendal Bridge restrictions will be removed this weekend.

Labour Councillors have made the decision tonight based on a report that has so far not been made public.

An all party inquiry into the shambles is promised.

It is also worth remembering the warnings that were given last summer and which Labour chose to ignore.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Keith Aspden commented;

“Labour were left with no choice but to reopen Lendal Bridge after the ruling from the Government Adjudicator last week. Even so this is an embarrassing U-Turn from a Labour Cabinet which has insisted all along that the closure is lawful and the restrictions were working.

“It was a botched trial from the start which has made congestion worse and damaged local businesses. It is now time for the Cabinet Member and Leader to take responsibility and resign.

“We also need urgent answers over whether the council will continue to use taxpayers money to fund its legal battle and whether it plans to repay the 53,000 plus motorists who were fined unlawfully.”

Lendal Bridge/Coppergate latest


Behind closed doors logo

The media are reporting that Labour Councillors will decide tonight whether or not to scrap the access restrictions on Lendal Bridge.

This may be so. They have to find a way out of the mess before they get embroiled in expensive legal proceedings and before the government is asked to step in and take action.

Labour operate a strict “whip” system. That means that whatever the majority of the Group decides everyone subsequently votes for the party line at committee and Council meetings. It also means that electors never actually find out what their representatives actually think of proposals!

There is talk of having a “Special Council Meeting” to discuss and determine the issue at some time over the next week.

Lovers of the theatre might appreciate such an event, but it is not strictly necessary.

The Lendal Bridge restrictions, at least, can be suspended immediately (as they should have been on 28th February) with a proposal to formally revoke the traffic order being approved at the next Cabinet meeting.



It was, after all, the cabinet that approved Dave Merrett’s report and proposal at its May 2013 meeting.

But getting to the bottom of what really went wrong will require a detailed, almost forensic, examination.

That is where the Councils all party scrutiny committees should be involved.

That would leave the tricky problem of Coppergate.

Although access restrictions are never popular with everyone, general traffic has been excluded from Coppergate for nearly two decades.

What Labour did a year ago was to extend the hours of operation of the ban and install ANPR cameras to enforce the new restrictions.

As we pointed out yesterday, Council officials had raised concerns in early 2013 about the plan but the changes were made anyway.

We doubt if the majority of residents would want to return to a day time free for all on a narrow street like Coppergate, which lies in the heart of the central shopping area.

We suspect most citizens would however like to be consulted on options.

In the meantime the Council had better concentrate on finding ways of addressing the issues raised by the traffic adjudicator.

Council Lendal Bridge appeal could take over 3 months to determine

Lendal bridge notice

Sources within the Council have admitted that it is unlikely that the result of their appeal against the ruling of the Traffic Adjudicator on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate will be known for over 3 months.

This means that if a decision is – as planned – taken at the May cabinet meeting, on whether to make the restrictions on Lendal Bridge permanent, then Councillors will not know whether they could be legally enforced.

It also means that anyone driving on the roads at present – and for several weeks into the future – could not have PCNs enforced against them because they would be outside the 28 days time limit.

Now it’s officially Lendal Bodge!

The Council have now said that they are no longer issuing fines to motorists misusing the access restrictions on both Lendal bridge and Coppergate.

As we predicated last week, the Council would have been unable to sustain any PCN notices following the decision of the Traffic Adjudicator that ANPR enforcement was unlawful.

Having maintainedCamera for nearly a week that they were “unable to say” whether the cameras had been switched off (as they should have been on Lendal bridge at the end of the trial period on 28th February), the Council has confirmed that no fine notices are being issued.

Apparently the cameras are still recording.

If the Council hopes to use this information, then legally they only have 28 days in which to issue the PCN – much less than the period likely to be necessaryd for them to progress an “appeal” against the Traffic Adjudicators ruling.

So big brother is watching and waiting

The Council statement reads

During the trial 95 per cent of drivers have adhered to the restrictions in place on Lendal bridge and the number of vehicles breaching the restriction had reached a peaked and started to decline. We’ve always said the trial was not to generate revenue, but to reduce traffic going over the bridge and through the city centre, as part of a long-term vision to create an even more attractive and thriving city centre for everyone.

As such, once the six month data collection had been completed, the council reviewed and reduced the levels of enforcement, at its discretion, during the restricted hours. Since this point, not every private vehicle breaching the restrictions has received a PCN. This is in line with similar schemes around the country.

“Following legal advice on the trial, restrictions will remain in place and recordings will be taken of any breaches of the restrictions along both Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.
Fines will not be issued upon these recordings until further legal process.
Drivers are urged to continue to adhere to the restrictions in place.”