At Cambridge City Council’s South Area Committee on the 11th of November 2010 I asked the police about the arrangements for enforcing the traffic regulation banning through traffic from using a stretch of the new Addenbrookes’ Access Road.
I noted that in April 2009, in response to my question, police Sgt. Morgenthaler had stated that the system would be entirely automated and would therefore not use up any police time at all. I asked if this was still the case, and drew attention to a email sent by Long Road Sixth Form College which had stated there was no automated enforcement and cameras would be used to identify vehicles worthy of investigation.
Prior to the road opening it had been reported that those taking less than fifteen minutes to proceeded through the Addenbrookes’ site via the road would be in breach of the law. I asked for confirmation of what the current enforcement criteria actually were.
I also asked:
- Is there a whitelist in operation; of vehicles permitted to use the road?
- Are all emergency vehicles, especially ambulances, able to use the road freely, without their drivers having to get involved in paperwork?
- Who owns the cameras?
- How long is the data collected by the cameras kept; is it only being used for enforcement of the traffic regulation, or is it available for other uses too – such as investigating other crimes?
- If more police time is to be spent on this, will it be taking officers away from policing Addenbrookes’ and South Cambridge? Who will be involved in the enforcement, will it be police officers or police staff?
Police Sergent Gavin Townsend responded. He spent a couple of minutes explaining the current position. He said the road had been open for three weeks, and that there were ANPR cameras at either end of the road. He said his understanding was that employees, workers, (he listed them both!) and ambulances were permitted to use the road. The committee were told the cameras were owned and operated by APCOA the private company contracted to run the Addenbrooke’s car parks. The police are going to monitor the situation for three months.
Sergent Townsend said he wasn’t able to actually answer my other questions. This prompted groans from the public seating. He committed to respond directly to me and I gave him my email address.
Many of those in the public seating at Area Committees are in-fact council officers. A Mr Davis asked to speak and introduced himself as being from the county council. I believe he is one of those who have the role of liaising between the area committees and the county council. Mr Davis said he had anticipated a question on the subject of the Addenbrooke’s Access Road and had therefore investigated the current situation prior to the meeting. He told councillors and the public:
Those who want to use the road need to go through the proper channels”
Mr Davis said he was unsure of the detailed arrangements, but said letters would go out to those who would be permitted to use the road explaining them soon. Mr Davis confirmed the cameras were not owned and operated by the county council; but were, as the police had said, owned by the private parking contractor APCOA.
I think the lack of clarity here is astonishing. Neither the police or the county council appear able to clearly explain what the law is and how it is being enforced.
The latest “information” (which may or may not be accurate) comes from an article posted on the 16th of November by County Councillor Harrison, she writes about the possibility of: “a penalty ticket from the hospital authorities” and states: “drivers using [the road] to drive right through the Addenbrookes site may get a fine from the hospital authorities unless they have permission to do so.”. Cllr Harrison does not explain on what basis the “hospital authorities” would be issuing “fines” to people due to the way they have used the public highway. The road itself is not a private road, and the cameras are on the public highway – you can drive past the cameras without going through the “access only” signs. Cllr Harrison has stated those entering and leaving by the same point will avoid trouble, a point not made in the information published by on the County Council’s website.
- No shortcut at Addenbrooke’s access road – Cllr Tim Stone, May 2010. Article states restrictions were a planning condition, which were to be made into a Traffic Regulation Order
- Novel Traffic Control Experiment Proposed at Addenbrookes – my article from April 2009.
- Policing Addenbrooke’s Hospital – article following my public question at the April 2009 South Area Committee
- County Council webpage on the Access Restrictions – this does not make clear if a Traffic Regulation order is yet in force, or make any mention of the police role in enforcement.
- Addenbrookes Access Road – be careful – Article by Cllr Nichola Harrison, November 16th 2010.