Southwark Council raked in £2.5 million in fixed penalty charges from LTN cameras in Dulwich and Walworth in its first three months of issuing fines.
Freedom of Information requests show the staggering income generated by three cameras in the Dulwich Low Traffic Neighbourhood and just one camera in Walworth’s Manor Place-Braganza Street.
Although cameras were welcomed as a ‘smarter’ alternative to road blocks and planters, and supported by emergency services as well as residents, they have now led to an astronomical number of fines being handed out.
In Dulwich Village, between January 11 and February 28, 2021 – when the council first started issuing fines – Southwark Council has issued an incredible 22,424 penalties.
If every single one of these had been paid early at £65, then the council has netted a total of £1,457,560 in just seven weeks.
A spokesperson for the Dulwich Alliance, a coalition of groups representing thousands of residents, some 150 shops and businesses and GP surgeries, described the amount of fines as “eye-watering and clearly not sustainable or acceptable”.
Meanwhile in Walworth, 29,530 penalty charge notices were issued to motorists captured driving through contraventions in Braganza Street from November 25 to the end of January, to a value of £1,018,160 within just two months.
After a report by this newspaper detailing huge three and four figure fines wracked up by unwitting drivers in Walworth, many of whom said they were left on the breadline by COVID-19, Tooley Street later pledged to cap multiple fines from Manor Place at three; with the first ticket cancelled if a warning notice was not received beforehand.
However, the new data shows that only seventeen per cent of the Walworth fines handed out so far have been successfully appealed, even though ward councillors admitted in January that the signage had ‘not been good enough’.
The fines come at a time when residents have just been informed their council tax is due to rise by 4.99 per cent, and the council’s budget is facing a £43 million black hole in its finances due to COVID-19 and pressure on its services.
In 2019 then-finance chief at Southwark Council, Cllr Victoria Mills, denied the local authority was actively pursuing a roll out of controlled parking zones (CPZs) in order to boost its coffers.
That year’s budget listed five million extra expected to be generated by ‘fees and charges’ – now seeming like a drop in the ocean compared to the millions the council could generate from low emissions zones and low traffic neighbourhoods over the entire year.
The News asked Southwark Council what was being done to improve signage, why so few appeals had been successful in this period, and whether it had budgeted for this dramatic rise in income.
Cllr Catherine Rose, cabinet member for leisure, environment and roads, told us on Tuesday: “We introduced LTNs to help keep residents safe.
“We want to support social distancing and safe walking and cycling, by reducing through traffic and improving air quality.
“Many of our camera enforced LTNs were introduced in response to conversations with the emergency services and by listening to what local residents wanted.
“All of our LTN signs meet statutory regulations, and in some locations we have gone over and above what is required. We are continuing to listen and make improvements. Timed restrictions are a key way to manage traffic flows through neighbourhoods. We will consult on all LTNs and invite residents and traders to help us shape safer, greener streets.”
New exemption for Blue Badges
The council has quietly announced an exemption for blue badge holders who live within the Walworth and Dulwich Low Traffic Neighbourhood trial areas.
An update to the council confirmed the change would take effect from April 6, 2021.
It says: “LTNs are designed to make residential streets safer, encourage people to walk and cycle more and reduce air pollution.
“However, in the course of our work listening to the people who live in the Dulwich Village and Walworth LTN trials, we have learned that Blue Badge holders may be disproportionately impacted by the schemes.
“Blue Badge holders often have reduced mobility, which can make walking and cycling much more difficult.
“In the interest of equality and in response to our residents, we are therefore inviting Blue Badge holders to register for an exemption.
“The exemption is to allow blue badge holders living in the LTN to travel with ease in their local area.
“Access to every property within the LTN remains available at all times for all road users.”
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