CROYDON IN CRISIS: Not a single fine has been raised on one Healthy School Street after four months of a six-month trial, all because the council has failed to instal any ANPR cameras, leaving the cash-strapped authority missing out on huge sums of income.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
There is mounting evidence that, under the pro-pollution Tory Mayor Jason Perry, Croydon Council is deliberately undermining, even sabotaging, its own clean air and motor traffic reduction schemes.
Inside Croydon has received reports of missing ANPR cameras – Automatic Number Plate Recognition – from outside a handful of schools in the borough, and we have seen the official response to a Freedom of Information request that confirms that at one designated Healthy School Street there has not been a single penalty charge notice raised after four months of a six-month trial – all because the council has failed to instal the cameras to check the registrations of cars driving past the school.
“The scheme is clearly not active and a total white elephant,” a concerned parent of a pupil at the affected school told Inside Croydon.
“It’s an absolute scandal.”
Motorists who drive down designated school streets without proper permits could face fines of up to £130 a time. Unless, that is, the council has failed to instal or switch on the cameras intended to police the use of the road.
This latest disconnect in the council’s traffic reduction schemes follows the cycle lane being installed along Brighton Road from Purley to the town centre, and then contractors hurriedly removing many of the reflective wands intended to keep cars and cyclists separate and safe.
Pro-pollution Perry has repeatedly spoken against the cycle lane through South Croydon, despite it being a scheme approved by Transport for London and funded with cash from central (ie. Conservative) government.
The part-time Mayor – who continues to hold four company directorships, including one with his building plastics family business – claims the cycle lane is somehow bad for business, though he has provided no evidence to support this opinion.
And when there was a Healthy School Street proposed for the benefit of young children attending three schools in South Croydon on a road that just happens to neighbour Perry’s £1million family home, the project was binned, mysteriously.
There are supposed to be Healthy School Streets at 42 locations around the borough currently, where the use of motor vehicles is carefully restricted at dropping-off and picking-up times during term time.
“Healthy School Streets aim to improve safety around schools and encourage more pupils to walk, cycle and scoot more often, by limiting motor traffic on the surrounding roads during school drop-off and pick-up times,” the council says.
Schools in Croydon Old Town – the Minster Nursery and Infant School and The Write Time School – were added to the HSS roster on March 13 this year, what was supposed to be the start of a six-month trial. Except that careful checking of the lampposts for the area near the schools has failed to locate any ANPR cameras installed – potentially rendering the entire trial period a waste of time, and money.
And it’s not as if Croydon Council doesn’t need a bit of extra cash at the moment.
Income from traffic fines and parking fees is supposed to be ring-fenced, to be used exclusively on transport infrastructure and travel passes for older residents.
At one point, according to the council’s own reports, it was being reckoned that £18million per year could be generated in traffic fines.
Croydon Council’s publicity surrounding the schemes has of late become more than a little biased, suggesting that the public should object about Healthy School Streets during the trial period, rather than inviting a more neutral comment.
Nearly 1,700 pupils, the youngest aged 11, attend Oasis Academy Shirley Park, where a Healthy School Street was introduced in January this year. But from what parents have told Inside Croydon, after four months, no cameras have ever been installed.
“It seems pretty clear to me that no enforcement cameras have been installed, rendering the whole thing pointless,” a concerned parent told Inside Croydon.
“The volume of traffic has slowly increased, as parents have cottoned on that they can get away with driving up to the school, as there’s no enforcement.
“It feels pretty scandalous to me to introduce these streets and not put cameras in. The council states that ‘data monitoring’ will be used to gauge effectiveness… which is pretty hard to do if there is no data.”
The original plans submitted by the council stated that the Healthy School Street would be enforced with ANPR cameras. Observations have shown what look like two camera poles, with a prominent blue outdoor power connector dangling from the top, but no cameras.
“Any evaluation period needs all the measuring infrastructure to be in place and operating before it can begin,” the parent said.
Parents and carers of children at the school had received a couple of emails late last year to advise that the Healthy School Street was about to be implemented and pointing them towards the council’s exemption permit site, while also warning that there would be a fine for travelling through the zone without a permit.
“For the first few weeks, it did have a real impact, and car numbers did drop. But as time has gone on, the volume of traffic has steadily increased and we’re back to people rat-running past the school to avoid the lights at the bottom of Spring Lane.
When Croydon Council was asked, via an FoI, for the total number of Penalty Charge Notices issued for the Stroud Green Way and Swinburn Crescent Healthy School Street for 2023 to late April, the official response came back:
“Zero (0) PCNs have been issued at this scheme since January 2023.”
As one environmental activist told Inside Croydon: “Without cameras, there is no enforcement. Without enforcement, there is no ring-fenced money from fines to cover costs and spend the excess on essential transport projects, such as filling potholes, supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies.”
An official council report from 2020, drafted by Steve Iles, the council’s director of public realm, sang the praises of automated systems. “Parking already uses ANPR… cameras at some locations in the borough and these have proved very successful, increasing compliance and operating 24/7 without the need for an operator to physically be present to tilt, pan and zoom the camera to record evidence,” the report stated.
“Parking services is a traffic management function that generates £18million of income per annum, and over £7.5million of that is from enforcement and permits which would not be processed successfully without a robust parking management system in place.”
The total income figure provided by Iles in his report has since been roundly repudiated in Mayor Perry’s latest budget-setting exercise. Although if no one is installing the cameras or switching them on, it ought not be much of a surprise that the fine revenue is not achieving the projections.
As the parent told Inside Croydon: “Failing to even install the infrastructure – that seems like acting in bad faith.
“At the very least, it can be cast as failing to take our children’s safety seriously. It feels very wrong.
“And if a scheme is not paying for itself with fine income, that, too, surely, will be used as an excuse for ditching it.”
This being Croydon, there is always a very strong chance that the absence of cameras at some schools is due to a council cock-up as much as any careful, nefarious plan. Other schools, where Healthy School Streets have been implemented, have had cameras working effectively, with drivers fined for breaking the rules.
When Jason Perry was standing for election as Mayor, one of the commitments he made was “to improving our local air quality in this climate emergency, because it is of national and local importance to take the urgent actions necessary to improve our environment in Croydon.
“This means tackling air pollution, as well as moving towards ending our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”
But this is already looking like another of Mayor Perry’s broken election promises, like his pledge to re-open Purley Pool and his undertaking to bring the people who bankrupted the borough to justice.
More recently, in February this year, the Perry, by now Mayor and pocketing his £82,000 per year allowances, told what he may have assumed was a plaint audience that, “if we truly believe in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, if we truly believe that walking and cycling is the way forward and the way that we create a more healthy environment, the way we do that is not by fining our residents.
“Any future schemes coming forward should not be based on fining residents in order to achieve it,” Perry said.
Pro-pollution Perry has already declared his opposition to cleaning up Croydon’s deadly and toxic air quality through the ULEZ extension.
Now, it is looking as if he wants to help law-breaking motorists dodge fines, too.
Read more: Tories accused of ‘pandering to prejudice’ over cycle lanes
Read more: Perry’s back-pedalling furiously on Boris-backed bike scheme
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He also risks future funding by not doing this properly. Not exactly the prudence we need right now.
You are not giving Part Time the benefit of the doubt here. You know he needs extra time with his private business commitments and I have no doubt all of these cameras will be installed some time later this decade.
The School Streets scheme was introduced in Croydon by Councillor Stuart King when he was the “Acting Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Regeneration (Job Share)”.
He’s now the leader of Croydon Labour. What’s he got to say about this farce?
Has Starmer swung the party so far to the right that locally there’s no difference between them and the Tories on this important matter?
Surely most from Croydon would rather less cameras policing and charging for our every move…
“Surely”? Your evidence that the majority of Croydon are in favour of law-breaking drivers is what?
The schemes have been introduced at 42 schools, with the backing of those schools and many of the parents of children at those schools.
Of course everyone in Croydon would like less cameras.
More importantly we would like
1. Less dangerous drivers speeding down side roads denting cars and busting wing mirrors and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
2. Idiots blocking dropped kerbs and disabled access with cars, lorries, cranes, skips, causing tailbacks as there is no longer passing points and Ambulances are delayed leading to heart damage for those suffering a heart attack.
3. Fools that pullout in front of you forcing an emergency stop and minor neck injury.
4. Nutters that speed up and fail to give way leading to Mexican stand-offs on narrow streets.
5. Complete lunatics that think as the road is blocked a bit can drive onto the pavement forcing people out of the way.
6. Maniacs that speed no matter the conditions.
7. Imbeciles that tailgate at speed on motorways and on busy roads of fast moving traffic.
8. Criminally insane drivers that think it is fine to eat, drink, take drugs, have sex, and check their instagram posting a selfie doing one or more of the above while behind a wheel.
9. Beligerant twits that ignore signs and blithely carry on knowing they are driving extremely dangerously.
10. Finally the anti-social rude and ignorant ones that park on others drives, land, gardens etc. and feel that is fine as they might be having a bad day.
Mostly we would like to see more patrol officers pulling drivers over and actually enforcing those laws as even cameras do not do the job and are a poor substitute for an enforcement officer.
But until those behaviours change or you would care to suggest alternative preventions and campaign and vote for changes, I guess we are stuck with the cameras are we not?
(PS happy to supply photos of all the above over the last 5 years – many reported to police except the sex behind the wheel no way that was making its way to the old iPhone library but apparently bizzness is offered regularly in the locality)
If Jason Perry is really against protecting children outside schools, then he should have the guts to come out and say it.
Failing to enforce healthy streets either shows that he is incompetent, or he is using dishonest and underhand tactics to undermine the system.
We need politicians who will stand up for Croydon, not ones who can’t even stand up for themselves.
IC continues to support the anti car agenda and the Local Council feeding frenzy on motorists, will they still be supporting Khan when his ULEZ cameras turn into pay to drive cameras. I have no objection to school road closures but I do object to the lack of adequate signage which disappear into the background when driving in non familiar areas, school roads should have strobe warning lights when in operation, an unlikely event as the revenue would drop to zero. And in the meantime we can continue to drive over our third world roads with their broken surfaces and pot holes, any chance of a campaign from IC on this..
Our comments policy is very clear: “We will not allow comments that are… palpably untrue.”
There’s more bullshit in this comment than in one of Part-time Perry’s little speeches.
So let’s go through Haydn White’s devious, snide little falsehoods, one by one.
1, There is no “anti-car agenda”. There is an agenda for making our streets and pavements safe places for children to be able to walk, scoot or ride a bicycle to their school on a daily basis. There is also an agenda to clean up the air that we breathe. If this demands that cars drive more slowly (20mph zones) or not at all (school streets), then suck it up… or are you really arguing for the car driver’s rights to pollute the planet or put children’s lives in danger?
2, There is no “feeding frenzy on motorists”. Deliberate exaggeration. If you break the law, you pay a fine. So don’t break the fucking law.
3, There are no “pay to drive” cameras or plans for them. More deliberate exaggeration, to provide another fake news slogan for the Yellow Boarders.
4, There is perfectly adequate signage, which has been tested by tribunals. Get an eye test. Or hand in your car keys if you can’t see to drive.
5, We do not have “third world roads”, as you would realise if you had ever driven in the developing world. Yes, there are pot holes. But to equate what is mostly a relatively minor inconvenience with the global climate crisis is ridiculous exaggeration.
You’ve been warned, Haydn White. No more lies, thanks.
Brilliant response. 🙌