And it's here - in what I thought was an incocuous stretch of road where my troubles began. Now, I've driven this little stretch of road countless times and I can tell you I'm usually one of the slower cars to traverse the four (yes four!) lanes. If you didn't know better you might be forgiven for thinking you were actually, albeit breifly, driving on the motorway.
Suddenly, on the side of the road I spied a police van, with the giveaway camera pointing out of its rear. Doing just under 40mph I didn't give it a second thought. After all, with four traffic lanes, its not exactly a pedestrain hotspot as you can imagine. Little old ladies do not scuttle across this road very often. Nor do cats for that matter. No people, no houses, four traffic lanes. Have a guess at the speed limit, go on...
Imagine my surprise then, when, ten days later I receive a charge sheet courtesy of Merseyside Police. Apparently I am gulity of not only breaking, but shattering the speed limit by 9mph - the limit for this road, according to pararaph whatever, sub section whatever being a miserly 30mph. Are we talking about the same piece of road here?
I have to stop myself from falling over. In all my time of driving this road I have never witnessed anyone doing anywhere near 30mph. I rack my brains. Are there any signs of said 30mph spped limits? Yes, about 250 yards earlier down the road, before the road expands from two to four lanes, 250 yards before the cats and old ladies stop crossing. Sneaky eh?
It seems that those crafty devils at Merseyside Police have purposely positioned themselves at a particularly ambigous part of the highway. With a significant shortfall iin their budget, it seems that our guardians of law and order have simply decided to make up the deficit by screwing us unwary motorists.
A similar thing happened to my 74 year old neighbour last year in virtually the same location. Her crime? Clocking a whopping 34mph!. For the first time in her entire life, she had broken the law. The poor woman, needless to say, was distraught
What really galls is the way you are treated after you committed your 'offence.' You can always appeal - if you have the time and inclination, and more importantly if you have the services of an expensive legal specialist at your disposal. Otherwise there's no alternative: pay up or race the further wrath of our criminal justice service.
Is it just me or this just a cynical way for the Police to make easy money? In the case of my first-time offending 74 year old neighbour - 4 miles over the limit - would not a warning have been sufficient? Oh no. £100 and 3 penalty points on your licence. Take it or leave it, but you'd better take it. And then of course there's the inflated insurance premium to consider. Easy money. kerching! Next!
Would issuing a warning be really that bad - especially if the speed limit has not been exceeded by say no more than 5 or 10mph? Even more so if the 'offender' has an otherwise unblemished record? Say for example, 25 years without so much as a parking ticket - indeed an entire lifetime without a single conviction of any sort whatsoever? I might be guessing here, but such a profile hardly suggests the DNA of a master criminal - residents of our beautiful county would hardly sleep better in their beds knowing myself and the good grandmother have been issued with speeding tickets.
I guess it's the slyness that really grates. The way they surreptitiously wait, in quiet places - usually roads which have a ridiculously low speed limit, purposely set to snare the average motorist. Because if there's one class of people this devious, insiduous method of 'law-enforcement' is very, very effective at snaring, it's the law-abiding citizen. Soft targets, right boys?
While Merseyside Police are gleefully filling thier coffers criminalising decent law-abiding folk, the criminal fraternity - the real bad guys - are operating with impunity, burglaring our homes, robbing businesses and generally making our lives a misery. So? A police force has to make money right? And let's face it, arresting criminals is never exactly going to make you rich now, is it? There is however, a hell of a lot of dosh to be made out of 74 year-old grannies.
With fewer police on the beat thanks to this government's austerity cuts, it seems to me that Police authorities increasingly have little choice but to go out there and make their own money. Tremble we all should.
Jesus, it's getting to the point where I'm bloody well scared to get in my car and drive. I'm terrified that I might, completely inadvertently, do a couple of miles over the speed limit somewhere - especially if I'm driving in an unfamiliar place. I'm terrified that my tiny error will be immediately seized upon by PC Plod and friends, eager to reach their targets for the day.
Whatever next? Privatisation of the Police force? I wouldn't put anything past these Tory slimeballs. Premium-rate £5 per minute 0845 numbers, replacing 999? Now there's a thought. Incoming calls to police stations would drop overnight...
Why not go the whole hog? How about call out charges? I mean petrol don't grow on trees does it?
For chief Constable, read Chief Executive?
Why not? Maybe then perhaps they'd get off the backs of innocent motorists. But then again, maybe not.
And you think I'm kidding...