Calls for clearer signs after man fined £80 when cycling to work in Hemel Hempstead
Last month, the council introduced Enviro-crime officers who have the delegated powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices
A man who was hit with a £80 fine when cycling to work in Hemel Hempstead has called for more awareness of the penalty charge notices and the no cycling routes.
Clive Perry was riding his bike to work in Hemel Hempstead from Abbots Langley, on Thursday, November 11, when he was stopped by an officer who told him he had gone through a 'no cycling' path.
He was then issued a £80 fixed penalty notice.
He said: "I decided to cycle from Abbots Langley along the canal rather than drive to my new work premises near to the Forum in Hemel Hempstead.
"The route went through the Water Garden entrance near to the bus terminus, through to the other end near to the police station.
"This seems the most sensible and safest route to take rather than take the main road which is extremely dangerous and also Waterhouse Street as it is used by taxis and buses and quite chaotic.
"I did not cycle through the main high street as there are signs all over saying ‘no cycling’.
"There are no ‘no cycling’ signs at the entrance at either end to this route - when I was stopped by the officer he pointed at a small sign near to the road where the path splits for the entrance to the covered car park, which is so far to the right it is easily missed.
"There are numerous signs about not feeding the ducks but none about not cycling.
"I think this fine is disproportionately unfair.
"I have taken pictures along the route to show how easy it is to make the mistake of cycling through the gardens as there are no appropriate or clear ‘no cycling’ signs in sensible places like the entrance at each end."
On November 1, Dacorum Borough Council introduced Enviro-crime officers who have the delegated powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices.
They have been delegated the powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £80 for littering and for breaches of the borough’s town centre, dog control and alcohol PSPOs. Should the FPN not be paid, the offender could face prosecution and a larger fine.
The public spaces protection orders section on the Dacorum Borough Council website has a list of the current orders in force in Dacorum.
One of the orders for Hemel Hempstead town centre is the restriction of cycling and skateboarding, spitting (including the discharge of chewing gum), urinating, defecating.
Clive added: "I have seen numerous cyclists since cycling through the gardens probably unaware that they are also at risk of a fine.
"These aren’t anti-social kids with no lights but ordinary cyclists like myself trying to get to work safely.
"There needs to be clearer signs so more people are aware of the rules.
"I feel on this occasion I should have had an initial warning that it was a no cycling area which I am now adhering to now that I know, rather than an instant £80 fine which seems disproportionately high considering the total lack of signage.
"We are constantly urged to use cycles and other low carbon emission modes of transport and there really is a lack of safe cycling in Hemel which I hope this highlights too.
"There are not many safe cycling routes in the town."
Mr Perry is going to appeal the fine with Dacorum Borough Council.
"This includes cycling in pedestrian areas in the town centre. For the vast majority this enforcement action has been well received.
"We do not comment on specific cases, the town centre and Watergardens is well signposted and traffic along most of Waterhouse street is minimal as it is restricted to only buses, taxis and cyclists.
"Residents can find more information about District Enforcement and the Council's new policy of issuing Fixed Penalty Notices at Littering and district-enforcement.co.uk or our Public Space Protection Orders by visiting www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/community-living/community-safety-dacorum/public-spaces-protection-orders."
Dyl Kurpil, managing director, District Enforcement, said: “Dacorum Borough Council and District Enforcement have carried out a number of public awareness campaigns about the consequences of people littering in public spaces, failing to clean up after their dog, or when breaching the borough’s Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO), which are criminal offences.
"These campaigns have included several education and engagement days, that have been appreciated and well-received by the community.
“Public Space Protection Orders have been put in place to protect the public from levels of behaviour that society finds unacceptable, either because they are hazardous or because they negatively impact society’s way of life. Importantly, a breach of a PSPO is a criminal offence, that can result in a summons before a magistrate and a large fine.
"To avoid this kind of situation, Dacorum Borough Council provided District Enforcement’s environmental officers with powers to allow potential offenders the opportunity to discharge their criminal liability, via the payment of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £80 each.
"This is an accepted method of seeing that justice is done, and that the penalty is fitting to the crime that has been committed.
“Although we cannot comment on specific cases, the act of cycling in the incorrect place, in an area that could potentially be hazardous or cause accident or injury to pedestrians, and despite ample signage explaining otherwise, will result in a person breaking the law.
"In such circumstances it is appropriate to deal with the offence via fixed penalty notice – and our enforcement officers must be consistent in their behaviours as they carry out their duties when issuing fixed penalty notices.”
To find out more about Fixed Penalty Notices, including how to pay or contest them, visit the Dacorum Borough Council website.