The decision of a traffic adjudicator last week, upholding fines against a motorist for driving into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, could clear the way for cameras that might generate £3m per year for the cash-strapped council.
STEVEN DOWNES reports
A motorist who was fined hundreds of pounds for repeatedly driving past road signs into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in West Croydon has had his appeal turned down by London’s traffic penalties tribunal.
But Shakeel Yousaf only has to pay £130, the cost of a single fine, well down on the £845 he managed to accrue after driving past no entry signs 13 times. That’s because Croydon Council decided to drop 12 of the charges against him, something that the adjudicator has ruled they did not need to do.
“The local authority has exercised discretion to cancel other Penalty Charge Notices,” the adjudication states. “The local authority is entitled to enforce this Penalty Charge Notice. The London Borough of Croydon could have chosen to enforce each of the Penalty Charge Notices.”
In other words, Yousaf got off very lightly.
This decision, although it does not carry the same kind of legal precedent a court judgement might do, will be a massive boost for the council’s use of ANPR – automatic number-plate recognition – cameras at various points around the borough. Chris Buss, the interim executive in charge of the cash-strapped council’s finances, has made no secret that he is eyeing a possible £3million per year in new income from ANPR road fines.
Inside Croydon reported last month how Shakeel Yousaf had driven into Parsons Mead Road’s LTN 13 times, but had 12 of his 13 penalty charge notices withdrawn.
Yousaf decided to contest his 13th PCN. It turned out to be unlucky for him.
Other recent adjudications on some signage around Croydon LTNs and school streets have ruled them to be “inadequate”.
That was not the case with Parsons Mead.
In Yousaf’s appeal, the adjudicator, Teresa Brennan, found, “The CCTV footage shows the appellant’s car turn left from Gardeners Road into Parsons Mead.
“The local authority provides evidence that there is a sign in Gardeners Road indicating that there is a prohibition on motor vehicles 50 yards to the left. There are signs on each side of the carriageway that indicate that motor vehicles are prohibited except for permit-holders BG.
“The CCTV footage shows the appellant’s care drive past these signs.
“Mr Yousaf states that he returned to the location and saw numerous motorists driving towards the signs until he alerted them of the prohibition.
“I am satisfied that the no motor vehicles signs together with the warning signs in Gardeners Road are sufficient to alert motorists of the prohibition on motor vehicles.
“I find that the contravention occurred… I refuse the appeal.”
In a post on social media, Yousaf said, “The most disappointing thing is I know that everyone thinks it’s a poorly implemented scheme and the signage is unclear, confusing and deliberate. But because of this independent decision, the council will claim they’ve set everything out clearly and perfectly, it’s all the drivers’ fault and they are now very unlikely to change the signage.
“It does feel like they’re getting away with it.”
This could yet prove to be a lucrative new revenue stream for the council.
Buss is a former senior council official in Tory Wandsworth, where they have been using this type of money-spinning scheme for many years. He has briefed councillors that under Section 55 of the 1984 Road Traffic Regulations, cash generated by road fines can go straight into the local authority’s general fund, and is not ring-fenced for use on maintaining roads, as is the case with parking fees and permits.
Buss’s medium-term financial plan for the council shows £11.6million in fine revenues over the next four years.
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