London council have issued 1.1million fines – worth up to £100million – to motorists who drove through low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) over the past three years.
The multi-million pound schemes, which were put in place by the government to encourage a long term move towards more cycling and walking, have been branded as council ‘cash cows’.
The widely hated schemes have been accused of making little impact on pollution and simply moving congestion and CO2 emissions to other areas.
More than 300 have been installed across the UK, many of which were set up by councils during the pandemic without consultation.
These pop-up cycle lanes and wider pavements are enforced using warning signs, large wooden planters and CCTV cameras.
There has been much criticism of LTNs since they were introduced, particularly as they have made congestion worse and at times have delayed emergency service vehicles.
Others have long warned that in closing off some roads to through-traffic to try to reduce pollution on residential streets, LTNs force more vehicles onto already busy main roads.
In the 105 authorities, 189 LTNs had been installed since March 2020 and since then 52 (28%) have been removed.
Traffic restrictions were put in place around London to encourage more cycling and walking but the ‘cash cow’ fines have been slammed for funding councils
In 2021, following outcry from residents, Ealing Council scrapped seven of its LTNs after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’.
Meanwhile in Oxford last month furious residents acted as ‘human bollards’ after vandals ripped out the physical poles in retaliation to the attempt to stop motorists on a neighbourhood street.
The top five councils who have imposed the most fines by value are Lambeth, Ealing, Lewisham, Southwark and Hounslow.
South London borough Lambeth dished out 147,612 fines, worth a total of £19,189,560 while Ealing sent out 121,835 fines with a potential value of £15,838,550.
Five London boroughs – Lambeth, Ealing, Lewisham, Southwark and Hounslow – have issued the most fines across the UK according to TaxPayers Alliance
Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Taxpayers will be worried that LTNs are just another cash cow to fill council coffers.
‘Residents are already driven round the bend by some of these schemes, which seem designed to punish drivers more than achieving traffic reductions.
‘Councils should put the brakes on LTNs and ensure they’re working for local residents and road users.’
Between 2019 and 2022, just fifteen councils accounted for £95million in fines research by the TaxPayers Alliance found.
In the three years since 2019, the number and value of fines have increased 97 fold, according to the data obtained by freedom of information requests.
In 2019/20 there were 13,048 fines with a potential value of £701,675.
In 2020/2021, 372,257 fines were given to motorists, with a potential value of £25,786,367 while in 2021/2022 the number of fines shot up to 752,988 fines with a potential value of £68,147,135.
London councils issued 1.1million fines worth £100million in three years to motorists who drive through the LTNs
In May this year exclusive figures obtained by MailOnline showed that drivers were hit with more than 750,000 fines – or 80 every hour – after being caught by cameras, resulting in £33million going into council’s pockets.
|Council||Number of Fines 19/20||Number of Fines 20/21||Number of Fines 21/22||Total Fines||Value of fines 19/20||Value of fines 20/21||Value of fines 21/22||Total Value of Fines|
|Hackney||No reply||No reply||No reply||No reply||No reply||No reply||No reply||No reply|
|Source: TaxPayers Alliance|
Some motorists had been ensnared multiple times while driving down streets that for years they were able to use freely.
Last year Islington Council came under fire after it installed a device to detect motorists using LTN roads, making £900,000 in £130 fines in 18 months.
Rakhia Ismail, president of Islington Conservatives, said at the time: ‘To make that amount of money from just one camera, especially in the middle of a cost of living crisis, is really shameful.
‘They are picking the pockets of vulnerable residents who are already struggling.
‘They are just interested in the money, not how it affects local people.’
Kingston Council and three councils outside of London – Salford, Leeds and Nottingham – made the decision to impose LTNs without issuing monetary fines, suggesting that councils can achieve goals of reducing traffic without hitting drivers.
Meanwhile, an ambulance chief has previously said LTNs were found to delay 999 responses because of paramedics not knowing the road changes, an has revealed.
Garrett Emmerson, who stood down as chief executive of the London Ambulance Service in 2021, said some paramedics were caught out when the roads were changed ‘very quickly’ during lockdown.
The exact amount the councils have received from fines for LTN violations is not known by TaxPayers Alliance research, as most councils only provided the potential value of fines if paid at the full amount – not at the discounted rate.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘All money boroughs receive from PCN fines legally must be reinvested in improving transport in the borough.
‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are council-run schemes and are helping to tackle our city’s filthy air quality, supporting the huge increase in cycling and walking since the pandemic, and also making roads safer.
Introduced in 2019, new rules enforce the scheme using warning signs, large wooden planters and CCTV cameras
‘LTNs reduce road dangers and clear up London’s air to make communities safer and greener. Boroughs are continuing to work closely with residents, emergency services and local retailers to make improvements where needed.
‘It’s vital that we don’t replace one health crisis with another caused by air pollution. Bold decisions must be taken to help save the lives of Londoners and ensure we are creating a better, safer and greener city for all Londoners.’