18 August 2015
Councillor Sian Berry has joined black cab drivers and bus passengers to call on Camden Council to use terrorism clauses in legislation to enforce its two minute waiting period restriction for drop-offs at St Pancras station.
Currently mini cabs taking advantage of a 10 minute 'grace' period introduced by former minister Eric Pickles in April this year are causing traffic chaos, bus delays and danger to pedestrians at Camden's major transport hub.
In a dossier submitted to the council this week, Cllr Berry has included photographic evidence from black cab drivers showing the restricted bays on Pancras Road are filled throughout the day with mini cabs waiting for 'e-hails' from apps such as Uber.
The occupied bays mean that legitimate drop-offs are forced to double park, leading to traffic tailbacks along Euston Road in both directions.
This also causes problems for pedestrians on the road and bus delays on the 214 and 46 routes. In one incident, Cllr Berry whose ward in Highgate is served by the 214 bus, counted six green light changes before her bus could enter Pancras Road from Euston Road due to parked cars blocking the way.
In the dossier, which answers points made in a response from the council to a query about the crisis in July, Cllr Berry sets out two potential ways to overcome the new restrictions and be able to enforce the necessary waiting times:
1. Make a new Traffic Regulation Order that can be enforced without a grace period, restricting waiting to 2 minutes again according to a clause in the relevant law covering security risks and terrorism - this could be justified at this very sensitive location and would not mean any difference from the current set up except that a grace period potentially would not apply
2. If all else fails, introduce a set of steep parking charges intended to deter drivers from staying longer than 2 minutes with a simple 'pay by text' process for making the payments and enabling enforcement
Pictured is Cllr Berry with black cab driver Shaun O'Meara who supplied some of the evidence in the dossier and has previously raised the problem with Camden.
“Black cab drivers have supplied me with a wealth of evidence, and I have also visited the site and seen for myself the number of bays being occupied by minicab drivers who are simply waiting there and looking at their phones.
“Something must be done and, looking at the legislation, I believe the reason sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act covering terrorism aren't named in the grace period regulations is that security and safety overrides any need for a grace period for drivers. This is applicable at this site and I've asked the council to look into making a new order on this basis.
“As a last resort, charges should be put in place to prevent the chaos we are seeing every day on this road, and getting bus journeys and safety for pedestrians back to normal”
The reasons given for a traffic order, do not affect how they are run. Having security as the reason given would still mean the order preventing waiting longer than 2 minutes would be applied to all drivers, as it does now, and there would be no scope for discrimination in enforcement. The only difference would be that the grace period would not apply.
It includes links to all relevant legislation and extracts from Camden Council’s initial reply to a July query from Cllr Berry.