Stag­ger­ing number of fines... but it’s work­ing

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOURVIEWS - >Mark Ed­wards >@PT Mark Ed­wards

Are speed cam­eras a good thing? I’m not ac­tu­ally go­ing to get into that de­bate now, but it is a sim­i­lar ques­tion to the one be­ing asked about the city coun­cil’s clam­p­down on anti-so­cial behaviour. Speed cam­eras slow drivers down, but do they solve the prob­lem of speed­ing? Spot fines act as a de­ter­rent but do they solve the prob­lem of lit­ter­ing, cy­cling in pedes­trian ar­eas and gen­eral anti-so­cial behaviour? This week we have high­lighted the re­sults of the coun­cil’s ‘clam­p­down’ which has seen an out­side com­pany drafted in to help is­sue thou­sands of £80 spot fines in a rel­a­tively short space of time. If ev­ery per­son caught pays the min­i­mum fine the author­ity will still rake in more than £170,000 from the penal­ties is­sued so far... al­most a rev­enue stream rather than a de­ter­rent. But un­de­ni­ably, more cy­clists are dis­mount­ing in Bridge Street now. We still see cy­clists flout­ing the rid­ing ban, but nowhere near as fre­quently. As for those caught spit­ting or uri­nat­ing in pub­lic they get what they de­serve. It’s im­por­tant for the city’s pros­per­ity that the cen­tre and other ar­eas feel safe, wel­com­ing and clean. That is what the coun­cil’s cam­paign is de­signed to achieve. It’s also im­por­tant that the cam­paign does not go so far as to make av­er­age cit­i­zens feel threat­ened or con­cerned about be­ing fined for mak­ing a mis­take, or ac­ci­den­tally drop­ping some­thing when vis­it­ing the city. A bal­ance must be achieved. Lib Dem group leader Nick Sand­ford also makes a fair point that the coun­cil should be fo­cus­ing on the ma­jor in­ci­dents of lit­ter­ing. While this might be right, we also need to re­mem­ber that the coun­cil is re­act­ing to many, gen­uine pub­lic con­cerns. Some cy­clists were en­dan­ger­ing the pub­lic by speed­ing through Bridge Street... it had to be tack­led. Lit­ter­ing, spit­ting and uri­nat­ing sim­ply shouldn’t be tol­er­ated and had to be tack­led. The clam­p­down may be viewed by some as some­thing of a sledge­ham­mer to crack a nut... but at least in this case the nut is start­ing to crack.

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