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Friday, October 18, 2013

the fearless London traffic warden - Ms Hilary Clinton given parking ticket...

A familiar scene in a metropolis ~ specifically – Chennai….. you are struck in traffic – not so wide a road – you wait patiently – sure to get irritated when you unruly people trying to cut lanes – slowly pressure builds up – with people moving on wrong lanes – now you see – vehicles facing each other – one cannot move without the other one giving way …… those idiots who did not wait and moved out of turn block the traffic – but eventually, they move away leaving the disciplined ones stranded…….

Another scenario – you wait at the signal promptly ….. a Tata Sumo or a Scorpio or some other car whizzes past, not caring for any rule – the vehicle sports a party flag – you can see some lower rank leader ! – sitting in the front talking on mobile all the time – and the driver – looking a small boy too on phone – no rules !

The same is the scenario at parking places ~ muscle men, small time politicians and many others float rules – they are better connected and can get away with any offence…………….then there is the bureaucracy – top officials – they too do not care for road rules or traffic signals……….. one feels miserable.

This week the Indian Apex Court sounded the last warning to the Centre saying if it failed to enforce the law and stop rampant misuse of red beacons, sirens and multi-tone horns within two weeks, it would pass an order for its strict implementation. "A small section of society does not bother about the law. Your law permits a very small number to use red beacons. Stop its misuse by anyone and everyone. Remove all sirens and multi-tone horns from all vehicles. If you do not tell us the mechanism to stop it, then we will pass orders," a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and V Gopala Gowda said.

The Supreme Court asked the Centre and the states to remove sirens from vehicles of VIPs as it is in violation of law and indicated that it would pass a direction for preventing misuse of red beacon also, observing that their use was a "reflection of British Raj". The court refused the plea of the governments seeking four weeks' more time to put in place rules for preventing their misuse and said that it would pass direction. The miffed court went on to say, "People are the masters. They pay taxes and elect their representatives. Why they should not be given red beacon and siren." "Why should we not strike down notification of the state governments for allowing red beacon on vehicles carrying high dignitaries," the bench observed while pointing out that there are states which have put all Ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats under the category of high dignitaries.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by a Uttar Pradesh resident on misuse of red beacon. Earlier, the bench had said that misuse of red beacon and siren, granted by government to VIPs, is a menace to society and it must be stopped. Apex Court stated that  the red light has become a status symbol and had said that police personnel, who are put on duty for giving security cover to VIPs, should be deployed for better purposes like making the roads safe for women.

Sad that it requires the Country’s Highest Court to direct these regular matters; happy that Apex Court still does this judicial intervention to keep things under tab. In this context, the newsreport in Daily Mail of a fearless London traffic warden who placed ticket on Hillary Clinton's Mercedes - despite FIVE security agents ordering him to leave – makes an interesting read. 

Daily Mail of 15th Oct 2013 reports of the extraordinary moment that Hillary Clinton's security staff got into an argument with a traffic warden after he issued her car with a parking ticket. The Westminster City Council warden put an £80 penalty notice on the former US secretary of state’s silver Mercedes vehicle in Central London while she was attending an event at Chatham House. The row was caught on camera on Saturday by photographer Greg Brennan, who said five of her guards were waiting inside a Mercedes van next to her car at the time because it was raining.

Ms Hilary Clinton had earlier arrived in a motorcade of five cars with around 10 security agents, Mr Brennan told MailOnline. Her car was parked in a bay on St James's Square in Mayfair, which costs £3.30 per hour. The warden then arrived and put a ticket on the car which had transported 65-year-old Mrs Clinton to the event, prompting her security detail to jump out of the van in protest, Mr Brennan said. The photographer claimed he saw one of the agents angrily waving his arms and flashing his badge to the warden, who remained unflustered and continued to issue the ticket to Mrs Clinton’s vehicle.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, told MailOnline: 'Despite our traffic marshal being questioned by the secret service for just doing his job, he was in the right. 'The former US Secretary of State was parked for nearly 45 minutes without paying. I’m sure she will understand that we have to be fair to everyone, regardless of their status on the world stage. It was further stated that for future reference, Mrs Clinton can now also download a parking app for her iPhone which will tell her in real time where a parking space is in the City of Westminster.'

Over the past ten years foreign embassies have accumulated more than 600,000 penalty charge notices after refusing to pay the charge, Transport for London said in May. Embassies now owe £70,068,175 - with the US topping the list. Over the past ten years, America has picked up 66,372 penalty charge notices totalling £7.5million. It was claimed in 2011 that London Mayor Boris Johnson asked US President Barack Obama for a £5million cheque for unpaid congestion charge fines, but the US ambassador intervened before Mr Obama could answer.

The parking ticket  issued to Ms Clinton came with an £80 fine - but would only be £40 if paid within 14 days. The fine has not yet been paid - but an appeal could be launched at any date before October 25. A spokesman for Mrs Clinton has not yet responded to a comment request, and nobody at the US Embassy press office could be reached when multiple attempts were made today. The politician - the wife of ex-president Bill, 67, and mother of Chelsea, 33 - was at Chatham House to collect a prize for her contribution to international diplomacy. She and her husband have an estimated net worth of £35million.

She spoke at the event to a newspaper, calling for a ‘sensible adult conversation’ about the boundaries of state surveillance after the leaking of files by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Mrs Clinton said it would be ‘going down a wrong path’ to reject a debate following disclosures about the collection of communications data by GCHQ and America's National Security Agency. She is currently considering whether to make her second challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Mrs Clinton got the prize for her ‘significant and impressive contribution to international diplomacy’ and ‘her work on behalf of gender equality and opportunities for women and girls’.

~ and one must appreciate the sense of duty and courage of  the Westminster City Council warden – completing his duty not getting overawed by the star value.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Oct 2013.
News of Ms Clinton and photo courtesy :

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