May 26 2013 Latest news:
PETER WALSH, Crime correspondent
Thursday, August 2, 2012
A Norfolk businessman who intends to stand as an independent candidate in the race to become Norfolk’s first directly elected police and crime commissioner, has been found guilty of a speeding offence in Norwich.
Mervyn Lambert, 64, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court yesterday for a trial after pleading not guilty to a charge of driving in excess of 30mph on Ipswich Road, a restricted road with a 30mph limit, on September 11 last year.
Lambert, of Fen Street, Bressingham, near Diss, activated a static automatic camera device while driving his Mercedes at 36.7mph.
Andrew Nicklin, prosecuting, said although the defendant did not dispute driving the vehicle on the road, or the speed which was taken by the fixed camera, he did have an issue over signage on the road and whether it was blocked and, therefore, whether he was ultimately guilty of an offence.
But Mr Nicklin said, under the Road Traffic Regulation Act, it is a restricted road if there is a “system of street lighting” no more than 200 yards apart, as there is on Ipswich Road.
He said: “The issue of traffic signs doesn’t provide a defence because they’re not required when there is lighting in place.”
He added: “If you’re satisfied it’s a road which is restricted because of the street lighting then any issue about any signs which may appear on that road doesn’t provide a defence.”
Lambert, who runs a Garboldisham-based plant hire, sales, rental and servicing firm, represented himself during the hearing.
He argued the 30mph sign leading onto Ipswich Road from Daniels Road, where it was 40mph with lights, was obstructed and could not be seen.
He said he also could not see the camera warning sign, with the 30mph limit, situated ahead of the fixed camera and insisted that guidance accompanying the Road Traffic Regulation Act stated signs, when in place on the road, should be “clearly visible”.
Lambert said: “If I was guilty of it I would hold my hands up. I certainly wouldn’t waste your time, waste my time. I could’ve had the opportunity of a speed awareness course and a £90 fine.”
Lambert, who told the court he would be standing as a candidate in the November elections for the county’s first police and crime commissioner, said he was a “law abiding person” who felt he was being impinged by the proceedings.
As owner of his own traffic management company he said he wanted to set a “good example” and took a “Draconian attitude” to any of his employees who were convicted of speeding.
Lambert, who said the local authority should have maintained the trees to ensure signs were not blocked, added he was just a “law abiding person who was driving down the road trying to make a crust”.
Jill Tallowin, chairman of the bench, said the street lighting system was “sufficient to make it a restricted road with a 30mph limit”.
She added: “The trigger sign is not essential to establish this and, therefore, whether it is visible is irrelevant. We’re satisfied the camera warning sign was on the roadside and would have been visible, therefore we find you guilty.”
On hearing the verdict Lambert, who had earlier branded the case “a complete and utter shambles”, left the court before hearing his punishment, insisting he would be appealing.
His licence was endorsed with three penalty points, he was fined £175, ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £620 costs.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission, which sets standards for elections, said a speeding conviction would not prohibit an individual from standing as a candidate in the police and crime commissioner elections.
Directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are a key part of the government’s radical new vision for policing to scrap “remote and invisible” police authorities.
It insists PCCs, part of the coalition’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, will transfer power to the people. They will also, according to policing minister Nick Herbert, put those in Norfolk firmly “in the driving seat” on the way their constabulary is run. Initially, elections for PCCs were to be held in May, coinciding with local elections, but they were postponed until November.
On Monday the EDP reported how former army colonel James Athill was elected Norfolk’s Conservative candidate – ahead of three other candidates, including Norfolk Police Authority chairman Stephen Bett.
In June Steve Morphew was named as Labour’s Norfolk candidate for the role of PCC but the Lib Dems have yet to announce if they are to put forward a candidate.
The closing date for those wanting to put their names forward is October 19.
The elections are in November.