Using PCNs to Raise Council Funds – It’s Unethical

With local Council budgets under severe strain, they have looked at raising money by maximising PCNs being issued. These can be issued for breaches of bus lanes, no entry signs in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), infringement of yellow box junctions, illegal turns and for a number of other reasons.

Many millions of pounds are now being raised by some London Councils in this way, totally unethically, particularly by those Councils who are prejudiced against motor vehicle use. The number of fines issued by the London boroughs and TfL in 2020-2021 are given in this document: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Annual-pcn-statistics-2020-21.pdf

You can see that the worse London councils are Croydon, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Lewisham and Newham with a large number issued by Transport for London (TfL) also.

In Lewisham for example, after the LTN was introduced in Lee Green the Council issued 87,443 PCNs for infringement in Dermody Road between August 2020 and January 2022. These would have been picked up by camera enforcement systems. There were also 5,462 issued in Ennersdale Road, 12,002 in Manor Lane and 19,961 in Manor Park.

The campaign group One Dulwich also reported these figures: “More than £6.6 million paid to Southwark in fines. An FOI to Southwark has revealed that 123,853 fines were issued in 2021 to vehicles going through the timed closures on Burbage Road, Turney Road, Dulwich Village and Townley Road, raising a total so far of £6,623,517. Once all fines are paid (calculating 123,853 PCNs at the lower rate of £65 each), the total will be more than £8 million. With this kind of annual revenue, the financial benefits of continuing with the Dulwich Streetspace scheme must have been part of Southwark’s thinking”.

You can see now why Councils are so keen to install camera-based enforcement systems – they are actually money spinners because the money they generate exceeds the cost of installation and operation.

A recent example is a proposal from Lewisham Council to introduce up to five yellow box junctions in a recent “Budget Reductions Report” to the Sustainable Development Select Committee. The capital cost would be £100,000 but the first-year rate of return is given as £150,000, i.e. there is a payback in under one year. It’s a highly profitable measure! But there is no evidence that such box junctions actually improve the flow of traffic.

In summary, LTN schemes enforced by cameras are not about reducing vehicle use, improving road safety or improving the environment. They are about generating money in a totally unethical way.

The approach by local councils and the number of PCNs issued very much depends on the policies set by Councillors. Please bear that in mind when voting at the forthcoming May Council elections.

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