Surge in Driving Fines

The London Evening Standard have reported that there has been a big surge in driving fines fuelled by the increase in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Some 7.4 million PCNs were issued in London last year – an increase of 41% on the prior year.

There are only 2.6 million cars registered in London so you can see that the number of PCNs issued per vehicle is very high even allowing for some PCNs being issued to drivers from outside the London area. These enormous numbers of PCNs are of course now being caused by the desire of some local councils to raise money from fines by installing camera systems to monitor LTNs and School Streets.

Boroughs such as Islington, Hackney and Lambeth are the leaders in this unethical practice but Transport for London (TfL) themselves issued 329,000 fines for infringement of bus lanes, yellow box junctions and other moving traffic offences.

The Covid epidemic was used as an excuse to implement LTNs without prior public consultation as temporary measures but have been made permanent as councils realised how much money they could extract from motorists using camera systems.

Standard report: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/driving-parking-tickets-penalty-fines-increase-low-traffic-zones-ltn-b1032725.html

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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/_files/ugd/84d4d3_2184322bb2af44c18e1a16ce65e3fbf6.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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Millions Collected in Fines from LTNs

The Times have reported that drivers have racked up £14 million in fines in London in just a few months by driving into Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Cameras were introduced to stop people driving through “bus gates” or into these zones instead of using physical barriers as the latter prevent emergency vehicles from accessing the roads.

The penalty for driving through the cameras is £130 and many people have collected PCNs because they have not noticed the signs. An extreme example given by the Times is that of Ivan Izikowitz who collected 58 fines totalling £7,500 after temporarily leaving home to help his wife in Lewisham.

But there are many other examples reported to us of people collecting fines about which they are very angry. Roads which were previously opened and regularly used catch people out, particularly as satnav systems have often not been updated to take account of the closure.

The £14 million total was collected in just 10 London boroughs and Lewisham obtained more than any other borough. Lewisham and other boroughs are of course keen to extract more money from motorists to help with their budget problems, but there is no justification for this behaviour.

The road closures should be removed as the Covid pandemic does not justify them and they have many other negative consequences.

Times article: https://tinyurl.com/b8u2hyzb

London road closures: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/london-road-closures.htm

Lewisham campaign against closures: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Money Generation By Councils

We have covered several examples of money generation by local Councils from PCNs. For example, for illegal turns, infringement of yellow box junctions, infringement of bus lanes and other “moving traffic offences”. See coverage of complaints about Bank junction in the City of London, and by Westminster and Hackney councils in our blog. These often arise from poor signage that drivers fail to spot. These are rarely deliberate infringements but are simply caused by unfamiliarity with the road and simple oversight. By using automated camera systems, councils can quickly generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue. Appeals against the fines rarely succeed.

Sometimes it appears that changes to roads are often implemented by councils with the knowledge that drivers will be caught by unexpected route changes and poor signage.

A Parliamentary petition against the abuses that this is producing has now been created. It calls for an independent review of the law. Please sign it here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/232919

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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