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month how Shakeel Yousaf had driven into Parsons Mead Road’s LTN 13 times, but had 12 of his 13 penalty charge notices withdrawn.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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One of the problems for the motorist is that the signs (the traffic sign faces) are often mounted so far above ground level, and so very close to the entrance to the street, that the motorist can easily drive underneath the signage and find themselves unwittingly in the controlled zone, maybe facing a camera. I am referring not only to signage for Low traffic zones but also One way streets.
What with the incredible busy-ness of the roads nowadays, and the need to anticipate the intentions of other moving and waiting vehicles, and the need to ensure that one doesn’t mow down a cyclist, or pedestrian crossing the road, there is so much going on at road junctions that it is easy to miss these high-level signs, while making the 90 degree turn into a typical side street .
I really think that there needs to be an entry treatment of a colour across the road to delineate areas of special control.
This should be for school zones, and these low traffic zones.
Plus a second set of signs about 8 metres beyond the junction.
I really think that there should be a national design standard which all councils would have to follow. If there is, it would seem to need to better designed to ensure clarity for road users.
Of course, with the cherry of over 3 million quid in the offing for Croydon, and very little cake in the council’s pantry, there is no incentive to be helpful to the poor old motorist by giving them a strong visual set of signs and reminders to keep out or turn round.
Whilst the signs at Parsons Mead in the article above are not at the street corner, it seems bizarre that there is no sign saying “LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOOD” at the top or bottom of the signs.
The whole point of signage is –or rather–should be–CLARITY.
The point of Low traffic neighbourhoods should be to keep non-resident traffic out to create a better environment for the residents — not generate income for cash-starved councils by means of unclear signage. Desperate times, unfair signs.
Added to all of what has been said which I totally agree with, what about skilful dodgems driving to avoid the poor state of some of the roads with pot holes or should I say craters is a health and safety risk to all members of the public , car drivers ruin their cars, bikers be aware, pedestrians watch out. The fines should be ring fenced to fix the roads!!!!! Oh do not get me started on the state of some pavements!! Why should locals tolerate poor quality Street life, but yet to attract newbies everything is made oh so wonderful, supposedly perfect well built houses, streets, road signs etc. Surely we all deserve the same quality of life.
You have perfectly echoed my appeals to Croydon Council. I am entangled in a dispute over the junction between Brading and Cecil Roads. Everything you say applies in my case and yet it falls on deaf ears for the reasons we know – a broke Council creaming funds off of the unwary, whether normally law-abiding or not.
Is anyone on this sight having success with appeals and, if so, on what basis? Or is it a fruitless exercise?
Are there road signs there?
Did you read them?