A council in one of London’s most affluent areas has been accused of ‘greed’ after expanding a controversial scheme that fines drivers for entering a neighbourhood without a permit.
Grasping Hammersmith & Fulham Council in fashionable South West London is targeting motorists who use five residential roads in a neighbourhood adjoining the River Thames.
It is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in Britain as it restricts access to public roads and virtually cuts off an entire residential area to all those without a permit.
The scheme was initially introduced on a trial basis involving three roads earlier this year and has prompted fears that other councils may also follow suit as a way of raising much needed revenue.
It is also one of many crippling measures introduced in post-lockdown Britain that have hit motorists hard, such as:
- Roads being closed or narrowed ot benefit walkers and cyclists;
- New cycle lanes introduced to encourage people to cycle to work;
- Town centre parking spaces suspended to help pedestrians socially distance;
Motorists in the capital have been particularly affected, facing hours in gridlock as a result of road changes and roadworks which have made driving a nightmare experience.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has introduced a new scheme only allowing local residents to drive through certain roads
Traffic in parts of London has been slowed to a standstill due to the new cycle lanes in areas
Esak Botross, 67, who lives on one of the affected roads, told MailOnline: ‘This scheme has actually made traffic worse’
Cars queue in London this week with lanes narrowed to help people cycle to work in the capital
Arban Hida, 41, runs a cafe in SW6 and branded the council’s scheme ‘ridiculous,’ after local businesses endured the coronavirus pandemic
Their misery has been added to with Hammersmith and Fulham’s scheme which entails cameras using the latest number plate recognition technology being placed on the specified roads to catch motorists out.
Only those with local parking permits or those who have applied in advance will be allowed to enter the roads, which are key entry and exit points to a residential area in the south of the borough.
The council has already been blasted for creating a lucrative ‘Moneybox’ after it closed a popular ‘rat run’ and forced drivers through a yellow box junction which generated huge fines for those who got stuck in it.
This is estimated to total £1.9million over the next year. Irate residents and drivers have now slammed the council’s latest initiative as ‘Moneyhood’ because of the fines motorists will incur for straying into a neighbourhood without a permit.
Local electricians say they had been caught out by the new fines while driving out on a job
The council says the initiative will stop local roads being used as a rat run, but residents and businesses have branded it a money making scheme
A cyclist travels down a cycle lane in London this week while cars and lorries have to queue
Esak Botross, 67, who lives on one of the affected roads, told MailOnline: ‘This scheme has actually made traffic worse.
Sadiq Khan’s war on London drivers sees new cycle-friendly road blocks delay paramedics reaching patient
Paramedics had to wait up to 20 minutes to get to a patient who had collapsed in an alleyway because their ambulance was blocked by bollards installed as part of a new traffic scheme.
Emergency services were called to Ealing in West London after the man was found unconscious by residents, but medics were impeded by a new one-way system that stopped traffic entering the road from one end.
Paramedics were impeded on Saturday by a new traffic bollards in Ealing, West London
The London Ambulance Service had not been given keys to the new barriers when they were called to the incident on Saturday afternoon, three days after the new bollards and flower beds were put up by Ealing Council.
The bollards stop cars entering Leighton Road, where the patient was found, from Northfield Avenue and are part of a new Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme introduced to re-route motorists away from certain areas.
Witnesses said the paramedics were angry they could not get their emergency vehicle close to the man who needed medical attention. The ill man was treated at the scene and refused to be taken to hospital.
Ealing is among the councils installing LTNs, announced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in May, with one of the aims to create safer streets for people to walk and cycle on by stopping motorists taking shortcuts on ‘rat-runs’.
Ealing Council said that it was trying to deliver more sets of keys to unlock bollards so all emergency staff have access to the closed off sections of the residential roads in the area.
‘Cars are at a standstill for most of the day because they are all being forced onto main roads and can’t use local roads anymore.
‘My friends and relatives who don’t live in the area are not visiting me now because I don’t know how to get permits for them and they are afraid that they might get fined. The council is being greedy and just wants to make money from this scheme.’
Arban Hida, 41, who runs a café in the affected area, said: ‘First we were hit by coronavirus and now we have this ridiculous scheme. It’s affected my business and the number of customers is dramatically down.
‘That’s got nothing to do with the virus but because people are too afraid to drive though this area in case they get fined.
‘The council introduced it without properly consulting us and the way they’ve behaved is a disgrace. They’re just being greedy and trying to make as much money as possible by fining drivers.’
Electrician Scott Spelman, 37 admitted that he received a fine after entering one of the roads in the scheme while driving to a job.
He fumed: ‘It’s hard enough driving around London as it is and now people are being forced to pay for going down the wrong road without realising it. I don’t live in the area and the first I knew about it was when I received a fine in the post.
His colleague Tom Roberts added: ‘It’s a dafty idea and very sneaky. A local resident told me about it but if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have known because there are not that many signs up telling you about the scheme.
‘It’s a terrible idea, they should be opening up the roads so that the country can get back to work, not restricting them and hitting people in the pocket.’
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA said that it feared that other councils may follow Hammersmith and Fulham’s example.
He said: ‘We’ve never heard of a scheme that restricts access to an entire residential area. It appears that the council is just trying to raise revenue and is not really concerned about air quality or managing traffic.
‘We are concerned about the impact this will have on local residents and drivers and it could set a disastrous precedent. Other councils will be watching closely to see how much money it raises and could do the same thing.’
Mr Cousens also warned that the ‘war on motorists’ is likely to continue as councils across the UK receive £45million from a total £225million to spend on emergency cycling provisions, as part of the drive to encourage people out of their cars to get fit in the war against coronavirus.
He said: ‘Traffic is not at pre-lockdown levels but is much higher than before.
New cycle lanes have caused traffic chaos in London, intensified by the school run returning
Cars queue in London this week as the capital’s motorists battle with the road lane closures
Cars queue in London this week as motorists face longer journeys due to the new cycle lanes
‘Local authorities have made a lot of changes, from closing roads to narrowing them, which have made life very difficult for motorists.
Flexible season tickets plan for commuters
Rail companies are set to offer flexible season tickets to encourage more workers to get back to offices.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that the Government was working with rail firms to provide tickets for those who will not be in the office five days a week.
Many offices will not be able to accommodate all their workers at the same time because of social distancing.
One idea mooted for flexible season tickets is that they could be bought to cover three days instead of a full week.
At Prime Minister’s Questions Tory MP Damian Green urged Mr Johnson ‘to encourage the rail industry to introduce flexible season tickets immediately’ to help office staff return.
The Prime Minister replied that the Government was working with firms on tickets that would ‘enable people to get back to work in a flexible way’.
‘This will continue until drivers make their views heard. Councils need to be willing to respond because some of these schemes need to be removed completely so that people can get back on the road.’
A Hammersmith & Fulham Council spokesman has been asked for comment.
The fine is £130, reduced to £65 if paid within 28 days.
Local MP Greg Hands is also opposing the scheme and has launched an online petition to try and get it scrapped, with hundreds signing so far.
Residents within the area must buy permits for visitors while vehicles such as delivery vans and taxis will have to find alternative routes to avoid camera controlled roads or they will also have to get permits.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council insist that the scheme, which it refers to as ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ is designed to make roads safer, ‘more pleasant’ and help reduce air pollution.
When unveiling the scheme, the council denied that it was a money-making venture.
It said: ‘We want to make all our streets safer and less congested, with cleaner air. Only rat-running non-residents will be penalised, encouraging them to use alternative routes.
‘We expect South Fulham traffic to reduce overall as out-of-borough traffic stops cutting through residential streets. Local traffic should flow more easily and air quality improve.’
Most of the spending set aside to promote cycling is centred on London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, York, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Derby and Cardiff.
Cars queue in London this week as drivers contend with heavy traffic in parts of the capital
This graphic shows how cycling (in grey) across Britain rose during lockdown as usage of other forms of transport such as rail and driving fell dramatically. However, cycling has since fallen off slightly in recent weeks, as a percentage of normal levels
The result, however, has been heavy traffic with many cycle lanes virtually empty.
In Bristol narrowing roads to create super-wide bike lanes is just one of the controversial measures introduced by the local authority along with suspending on street parking and more than 12 roads being closed.
Cars and vans have effectively been banned from the road into the city centre from the main railway station, Temple Meads – forcing drivers to use a long, circuitous alternative.
Recent startling pictures revealed how many of London’s growing array of cycle lanes lie empty, while traffic piles up in narrowed roads nearby as Sadiq Khan’s war on motorists continues.
Photographs taken across the capital in the likes of Tooting, Streatham, Balham, Islington, Mayfair and Victoria showed how the lanes were empty while cars and vans sat in heavy traffic alongside them.
The new lanes were brought in to encourage people to cycle to work by giving them more space and reduce the pressure on public transport amid fears over social distancing issues on the Underground and buses.