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Thursday, 31 July 2014
Oxted drivers are idiots

And, as you can see, they drive recklessly, erratically and dangerously too.  (OK, some of them).

Update: (4/8/2014)

On the advice of Angie Austin (local neighbourhood inspector) on Twitter:

I logged an allegation of bad driving with Surrey Police on Friday 1 August 2014.

the driver of the vehicle, who had dangerously undertaken me, had engaged in a series of reckless and dangerous behaviour that is visible in the video evidence:

  1. Through the temporary roadworks he swerved his vehicle in an erratic fashion.
  2. His passenger waved her arm out of the left side of his vehicle, presumably in response to my indicating with my arm that I was going to turn right. In response the driver waved both of his arms out of the vehicle.
  3. Presumably due to losing full control of his vehicle as a result of (2) above, the driver did not slow down safely behind me, in good time.
  4. Possibly due to (2) and (3) above, or else due to a reckless disregard for my safety, the driver then undertook me in a location where it is neither safe nor legal to do so.

Normally I would receive an email reply the same date, but for some reason I have heard nothing back yet.  I posted the paper form to Surrey Police on Saturday morning.

Update: (6/8/2014)

Today I received a letter of acknowledgement from the Traffic and Process Unit of Surrey Police:

Date 05 August 2014


Re: Allegation of bad driving at CHURCH LANE, OXTED TOWARDS HAYWAIN AND A25.

The report of an allegation of bad driving on 30 July 2014 at around 19:25 at the above location has been allocated the above reference number. We are the office that will be dealing with the enquiries.

Please be aware that our enquiries may take some time to complete and dependant on the circumstances and lines of enquiry, the investigation may take up to 3-4 months and possibly longer. We will update you when we have any significant information.

Yours faithfully
(Signature illegible, and no name given).

This letter is now familiar to me. There is little or no commitment on the police’s part, they don’t see a need to discuss anything with me, and they are attempting to lower my expectations by saying that this could take a long time.  They are also not giving me any insight into their processes. On their website Surrey Police describe their priorities and direction thus:

Our vision is to ‘deliver safe, satisfied and confident communities and relentlessly pursue those people that undermine them’.
Our strategy is to:

  • Keep people safe from harm
  • Give them confidence that we will be there when they need us
  • Relentlessly pursue criminals

Unfortunately the letter doesn’t give me confidence that the police are there for me, or that they will be relentless in pursuing the criminal in this incident.  Let’s see… 

Update: (9/9/2014)

Today I called Surrey Police and asked for an update on the case. After providing the reference number, and then being put on hold for some minutes, I was informed as follows (from my rough notes):

Surrey Police have identified the driver of the vehicle. We received a response from the driver on 27th August, and it is with the decision-maker for review at the moment. It will be about another week or so, before we take a decision and write to you with this. Surrey Police will not share with you the response of the driver to the allegation until we have a final decision.

Update: (21/11/2014)

Today I called Surrey Police and asked for an update on the case. After providing the reference number, I was again put on hold for about 5 minutes.  At first the person at the Traffic and Processing Unit couldn’t find my file. I was put on hold again for another 3 or 4 minutes (presumably while she searched for it).

She told me that the case is with a decision maker, that they have a “massive number” of cases and it is taking time to resolve but hopefully I will get a letter from Surrey Police “soon”.  I tried to press her for a timeframe, but she would not commit to anything. I pointed out to her that the incident occurred on 31st July, that on 5th August they sent me the letter of acknowledgement, and then on 9th September when I called last they said then that the case was with the decision maker and I could expect a response within two weeks. It was now over two months since then and I had heard nothing. She told me that we were still on time because the police had 6 months in which to take action (if they decided to do this).  I objected, and pointed out that in a previous case I felt Surrey Police had “run down the clock” and after 4 months advised me that it was not worth pursuing the case because the 6 month limit was going to expire.  At that point she told me that she was with the decision maker and he undertook to review the case file today.  So today was a bit of a feeling of déjà vu - Surrey Police have not taken the case forward for the last two months.

Update: (26/11/2014)

Today I received the following letter from Surrey Police, dated 21 November 2014:

I write with reference to the allegation of bad driving you made against the driver of M521RTF on 30 July 2014 at around 19:25.
The case has now been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, with a recommendation to prosecute.
Should your attendance at Court be required then you will be notified.
Once the case has been concluded you will be informed of the result; however, this may take many weeks. In the meantime should you wish to discuss the mattter I can be contacted during office hours on [telephone number provided].
Yours faithfully
[illegible signature]

So it seems my telephone call on 21 November to enquire on the status of the case has achieved a result. The paperwork has moved on - to the inbox of someone in the Crown Prosecution Service.

Update: (27/03/2015)

Today I received the following letter dated 20 March 2015, from Surrey Police:

I write regarding the incident on 30 July 2014 at around 19:25 which occurred at Church Lane, Oxted towards Haywain and A25.

The case against Alex Charles Smith has now been heard at Redhill Magistrates Court on 13/03/2015 with the following result:

Offence - Driving without due care and attention
Verdice - Guilty Plea
Results - £265.00 Fine and 5 Points on Driving Licence

Thank-you for your assistance in this matter.

Yours sincerely,
Caroline Nuthall

I also received a letter from the CJS Criminal Justice System dated 24th March 2015:

I am writing to let you know what has happened in this case.

At the hearing on 13th March 2015 at South East Surrey Magistrates’ Court (Redhill), Alex Charles Smith pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road / in a public place without due care and attention
  • Driver not in position to have proper control - endorsable offence
He was sentenced as follows:
  • Fined £160
  • Pay a surcharge of £20
  • Pay costs of £85
  • Driving record endorsed with 5 points

Any bail conditions imposed by the court in relation to these offences no longer apply.

The case is now concluded. It is possible for them to appeal against the conviction and sentence. If that happens it will be dealt with at the Crown Coart.

In the meantime if there is anything I can help you with, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would like to thank you for your assistance as a witness in this case. Your evidence was very important in bringing this case to justice and your contribution is greatly appreciated.

So a positive result (I think).

Two things struck me:

  1. Surrey Police and the CJS gave different information to me. Perhaps there is no inconsistency but CJS seemed to provide me with fuller information and Surrey Police confirmed my previous impression that they give as little information as possible.  Similarly Surrey Police seemed to inform me as a “duty” whereas CJS treated me as a valuable witness, and thanked me. Of course I see myself as a victim in this incident (having been nearly seriously injured) and not simply a “witness”.
  2. CJS suggest that the driver may appeal, but surely this is not possible as he pleaded guilty in the case?
Posted by bigblue on 31/07/2014 at 02:12 PM
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Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Road rage in London

Taxi driver goes mental because there are cyclists blocking the way in front of him.  The cyclists tried to explain calmly that there was no room for him to move forward safely due to the procession of cyclists in the road, and asked him to be patient a couple of minutes. He lost it, and a few members of the public saw fit to try and intervene with him.

Because Critical Mass takes place without an official route or sanction, participants in some cities have sometimes practiced a tactic known as “corking” in order to maintain the cohesion of the group. This tactic consists of a few riders blocking traffic from side roads so that the mass can freely proceed through red lights without interruption….

The practice of corking roads in order to pass through red lights as a group is in contravention of traffic laws in some jurisdictions and is sometimes criticized to be contrary to Critical Mass’ claim that “we are traffic”, since ordinary traffic does not have the right to go through intersections once the traffic signal has changed to red.  However, groups of cyclists are allowed to pass signals as a group at least in Germany and Austria.  Corking has sometimes led to hostility between motorists and riders, even erupting into violence and arrests of motorists and cyclists alike during Critical Mass rides.

~ see Critical Mass on Wikipedia.

Posted by bigblue on 30/07/2014 at 07:57 AM
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Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Man and dog - the video

This man was skate-boarding with his dog in London on Friday night. I suggested to him that he was “cheating” by using his dog as an “engine” for his skateboard. He joked that he didn’t know that Critical Mass had such a rule…  Of course I hadn’t been referring to the rules of Critical Mass (there aren’t any that I know of), but to the Rules of Skateboarding in a general sense.

Posted by bigblue on 29/07/2014 at 12:40 PM
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Monday, 28 July 2014
Man and dog


This man was skate-boarding with his dog in London on Friday night.  The lead is actually harnessed around the dog’s chest so that she provides some of the energy for his ride.

Posted by bigblue on 28/07/2014 at 09:09 PM
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Saturday, 26 July 2014
Solidarity with Gaza


It’s kicking off in Kensington High Street.

Posted by bigblue on 26/07/2014 at 12:47 PM
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Friday, 18 July 2014
Earth Mother

The plaque near this sculpted tree stump reads:

Earth Mother

As a young camphor tree sapling, the tree was toed with barbed wire forming a boundary fence - there are still vestiges of the barbed wire sticking out of from the body.

The sculpture thus symbolically represents the abuse suffered by women and our beautiful earth.

Created by Dina Cormick in 1991.

I think that by “toed” the author of plaque means “tied”, and that “sticking out of from” is a second typo. 

Posted by bigblue on 18/07/2014 at 09:27 PM
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Yesterday we went to see the Gandhi homestead at Inanda (now a museum and educational centre). This is where Gandhi lived for 21 years, where he developed the concept of Satyagraha, where he became politicised, and where he launched a global anti-colonial struggle that shook the British empire.


According to our tour guide Gandhi’s original house was torn down at the instigation of agents of the apartheid government in 1985 but was rebuilt after 1994. The steps down to the garden are the original steps.

The building that housed Gandhi’s printing press is now a base for a mobile clinic that serves HIV-positive orphans.

It was an interesting visit. The displays and materials were informative. They explained his influences and also the influence of Gandhi globally. Tribute was also given to two other “sons of Inanda”: John Dube, (founder president of the ANC) and Isaiah Shembe (founder of a religious sect). 

Despite this the museum had an air of neglect. It also felt too parochial and constrained for a person of Gandhi’s stature. Sadly, twenty years after the fall of apartheid this museum doesn’t seem have the attention and resources of those addressing “white” concerns.

Posted by bigblue on 16/07/2014 at 07:21 AM
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Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Now there’s a monkey crossing my path. This is the alpha male; the rest of the troop are somewhat behind.

Posted by bigblue on 15/07/2014 at 07:12 AM
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