Vigilantes hit Islington to ‘protect drivers from CCTV cars’
PUBLISHED: 10:12 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 11:15 17 February 2011
A BAND of motorbike-riding vigilantes has hit the streets of Islington to “protect” residents from “hidden” £120 fines handed out by the council’s CCTV cars.
Since Saturday, riders sporting high visibility vests and plastic Guy Fawkes masks have been following Islington Council’s two CCTV cars on their motorbikes to warn drivers to beware.
The No To Mob group started hounding Westminster’s nine CCTV cars in July last year, and has now decided to ride to the rescue of Islington’s embattled motorists.
Semi-retired Steve Baker, who is a founding member of No To Mob and goes by the name Bald Eagle, said: “Councils putting revenue before public safety is what we’ve got a problem with. These CCTV cars are supposed to be visible deterrents to drivers, but instead they hide to catch people out and fine them when they take a wrong turn or stop in yellow box. We’re just helping them to become more visible.”
The volunteer rangers come from all walks of life and include a gas engineer, a pastry chef, a lawyer and a gardener – and say they are doing their bit for Cameron’s Big Society by pointing out where the CCTV cars are hiding.
They originally formed to campaign about parking charges for motorbikes in Westminster, but have since decide to bring high visibility to a new issue.
In their first outing in Islington on Saturday, the CCTV driver they were following headed straight to Islington police station, in Tolpuddle Street, for help, but the officers decided that the No To Mob riders were not doing any harm.
In fact there is growing support for the masked riders – who call each other by their No To Mob nicknames – and meet-ups are arranged through their website and twitter.
Graham Jones, aka Free Parking Warrior, said: “The support has been amazing. The police, little old ladies, cab drivers, bus drivers, young couples – they all love us. We don’t have a problem with the drivers themselves but we’ve struck a chord. People even stop us by the side of the street and hand us £20 notes for petrol.”
Black cab driver Joe Cartwright, of Blundell Street, Holloway, said: “I love what they’re doing. I hate the CCTV cars.”
Islington councillor Paul Smith, executive member for environment, said: “Our CCTV camera cars are highly visible and not like any other car on the street. As such, they already act as a deterrent to drivers and riders who may be contemplating a banned manoeuvre. We will continue to use them to enforce traffic rules.
“Protesters are free to do what they like as long as its safe. I emphasise the purpose of traffic enforcement is deterrence not revenue raising.”