Lewisham Council has handed out more than £3 million in fines to drivers ignoring its controversial “low traffic neighbourhood” in Lee Green and Hither Green.
The scheme, which set out to stop rat-running in residential roads between the A20 and the South Circular Road, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures in June. It has split local opinion – with roads on the edge of the zone seeing extra congestion amid a general growth in car use since the pandemic began.
Camera-enforced barriers, which photograph licence plates so the council can send out fines to those who break the rules, are used instead of physical barriers in four locations: Ennersdale Road, Dermody Road, Manor Lane, and Manor Park.
Despite signs warning of the camera, thousands of drivers drove through the barriers and faced fines of £65 if they paid within two weeks or £130 after that.
Ahead of Lewisham’s full council meeting, to be held tonight, members of the public asked how much the council has levied in penalty notices and how many it has issued. Lewisham so far has issued £3.1 million in fines, with about half paid already and half owed. The council has issued 8,248 warning notices and 46,917 penalty charge notices.
Lewisham’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Sophie McGeevor, said: “The council has received in the region of £1.5m and the outstanding monies owed is approximately £1.6m from penalty charge notices issued in relation to the traffic restrictions in Manor Lane, Manor Park, Dermody Road and Nightingale/Ennersdale Roads.
“The aim of these measures is to ensure that people comply with the closures and it should be noted that since enforcement began at the camera enforced modal filter locations there has been an 86 per cent drop in contraventions.”
The money must go back into transport, she said in a written response, including maintaining parking facilities, road and pavement works and the Freedom Pass, she added – topping up the income it gets from parking charges.
“The council’s spending on these elements has consistently exceeded the surplus of the parking account,” McGeevor said.
Last Friday Lewisham confirmed it would be making changes to the scheme to relieve traffic congestion in streets outside the zone. The changes include allowing vehicles, except HGVs, through the camera-enforced barrier in Manor Lane and adjusting the existing cameras on Ennersdale Road and Dermody Road to allow vehicles to travel one-way west to east.
It’s also likely that Blue Badge holders will be able to register with the council and drive past cameras without being fined.
Grainne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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