Council’s urgent move to exit flawed £5m traffic camera deal

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Officials look to cancel supply contract with American-owned tech firm after discovering they could not provide parking enforcement cameras required

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Big Brother is watching: but Croydon drivers are already learning how to avoid £65 fines

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Big Bother: drivers in some parts of the borough have dodged fines because the council’s ANPR cameras don’t work

Croydon Council has moved to cancel a contract for ANPR cameras – Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras – after discovering that the equipment intended for use in parking enforcement… does not work.

Council papers suggest that the contract may have been worth as much as £5million.

Inside Croydon broke the news in May of the latest procurement omnishambles at Fisher’s Folly. The council is taking great care to avoid saying publicly how much this latest sorry saga might be costing the borough’s long-suffering residents, although the amount will be at least six months’ worth of lost fines from motorists.

Yesterday, the council published documents to begin the process of formally cancelling its deal with the British subsidiary of Conduent, a New Jersey-based business services company. Conduent itself was established to trade in “digital business solutions and services spanning the commercial, government and transportation spectrum”. Clear?

Conduent says that it offers “exceptional outcomes for its clients and the millions of people who count on them… Conduent’s solutions and services digitally transform its clients’ operations to enhance customer experiences, improve performance, increase efficiencies and reduce costs.” Unless, of course, the client happens to be Croydon Council…

Croydon has been ordering ANPR cameras to use for parking enforcement, LTNs – Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods – and also to equip the rollout of Croydon’s “Healthy School Streets”, where unauthorised vehicles are supposed to be banned from the roads outside schools at dropping off and picking up times during term.

When operating properly, the cameras are supposed to discourage drivers from using the school streets, which are supposed to encourage parents and children to use “active travel”: walking, cycling and scooting. Schemes elsewhere in London have seen increases in active travel of as much as 65per cent, as parents and carers have left their cars at home for the twice-daily school run.

For those who drive vehicles down designated school streets without a permit, they can face fines of up to £130 a time (there’s no discount for repeat offenders). In 2022, London boroughs issued fines that totalled nearly £52million.

Since January this year, Croydon Council has announced 18 streets, affecting 21 schools, which have supposed to be running a properly monitored trial. The trials may well have to be redone, as there has been no data collection or enforcement from number-plate recognition cameras, because working cameras have never been installed on those streets.

The American equipment sourced by Croydon Council officials was belatedly discovered to be incompatible with British car number plates. Initially, it was hoped that the disconnect might be resolvable through installing new software.

This, though, now appears not to be possible, and with the suppliers unable to deliver what was required, Croydon needs to end the deal and find another source.

Previous council reports this year have shown the budget having to be adjusted because of the shortfall in predicted income from fines on motorists because of the absence of functioning cameras in the council’s car parks.

Six months ago, Steve Iles, the council director supposedly in charge of the rollout of school streets, told a council meeting, “Not all of the sites are live but they are in the process of being implemented.”

A Freedom of Information request later confirmed that at least nine of the borough’s newest “Healthy School Streets”, which were introduced in January this year, have no functioning ANPR cameras.

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Budget issues: the report to cabinet tomorrow night confirms issues around ANPR cameras for council car parks

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Budget issues: the report to cabinet in May confirmed issues around ANPR cameras for council car parks

Last night, a new notice appeared on the council website.

Jason Perry, Croydon’s executive Mayor, had delegated the responsibility for exiting the contract to Nick Hibberd, the council official grandly titled “corporate director of sustainable communities, regeneration and economic recovery” (got all that?), together with council cabinet members Scott Roche and Jason Cummings.

Together, they “approved the action to take such decisions and steps as are necessary to exit the existing contract for the provision of ANPR cameras with Conduent, including negotiating and agreeing a final settlement and novation of any existing contractual arrangements between Conduent and Yunex Ltd and any other relevant sub-contractor to the council if necessary”.

Yunex are a another company involved in the deal, who may have been supllying Conduent. Yunex describe themselves as a “global leader in intelligent traffic solutions” who say that they “connect the dots of a new mobility revolution”. Which is nice.

Under the council’s exit deal, they are requiring Conduent to fix any outstanding contractual arrangements with Yunex.

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Exit fee: the council is hoping to extract itself from the deal

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Exit fee: the council is hoping to extract itself from the deal

The council website says, “…the council has completed negotiations with Conduent Public Sector UK Limited in relation to exit from the existing contract in relation to ANPR cameras on terms set out in a settlement agreement between the council and Conduent.”

The details of the settlement have been withheld from the public, although elsewhere on the page it explains, “Reason for urgency: The council is exiting an existing contract early. Negotiated exit requiring timely agreement in order to appoint a new supplier.
Accordingly, the settlement must be signed by both parties urgently.”

And it describes the “Financial Impact” as “Expenditure or savings of up to £5,000,000.”

A Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon: “As the suppliers couldn’t deliver as required, there’s no reason that exiting this contract should cost the council a penny.

“But because the council hasn’t had the ANPR cameras in place, there have been revenues and fines that the council hasn’t been able to collect.”

Read more: Fining car drivers is not fine with pro-pollution Mayor Perry
Read more: Council boss admits road fine ANPR cameras not switched on
Read more: Director admits £12m sums on ANPR fines don’t add up

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