Controversial Holloway road layout branded illegal – leaving Islington Council facing £1million payout
PUBLISHED: 17:12 17 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:12 17 April 2013
More than £1million worth of traffic fines issued at a controversial width restriction may have to be repaid by the council.
More than 9,000 penalties – worth more than £1,180,000 – were dished out in less than four months at the traffic restriction in Drayton Park, Holloway.
Now Islington Council will have to pay the money back to anyone who appeals after the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service found that the penalties were issued illegally.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “The incompetence of this council is mindblowing.
“Heads should roll over this and all the money should be paid back.”
The width restriction was installed in Drayton Park in May 2012 – at a cost of £80,000 – to stop lorries using it as a rat-run.
New signs – and the associated traffic management order – told motorists that from June 2012, they had to drive on the left-hand-side of a new set of islands while the centre of the road would be reserved for buses, dustcarts and the emergency services.
But a string of accidents followed and in September 2012, Islington Council spent another £30,000 remodelling it. This time, the signs told motorists to drive down the middle of the street – in between the new islands.
The Labour-run council then started using CCTV cameras to catch any motorists who failed to obey the new rules – hitting them with £130 fines, reduced to £65 if they paid within 14 days.
The council issued at least 9,104 fines – worth a total of £1,183,520 – between November 14, when enforcement started in earnest, and February 28.
But one fined motorist, Jeanette Michaels, 59, decided to challenge her ticket with the help of parking campaigner Albert Herbert.
And when the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service looked into her case, it ruled that her ticket was invalid because the traffic management order was not amended in line with the new road signs. This means that all the tickets issued after the signs were changed can be legally challenged.
Ms Michaels’ son, 34-year-old railway worker Barry Salter, who was with his mother when the fine was issued, added: “If I had to use one word to summarise Islington Council’s performance, it would be incompetence.”
Islington Council recently spent another £3,600 on replacing the bollards in a bid to make the width restriction safer after a second car flipped over in March.
A council spokesman said: “The order is now being changed. We’re very sorry for the confusion and disruption. If drivers believe they have been issued with an incorrect penalty charge notice, they should get in touch with us and we will refund any incorrect tickets.”
The lorry ban width restriction in Drayton Park was put in at local residents’ request for safer streets.
“When the width restriction was modified late last year, a technical mistake was made and the traffic management order was not changed as it should have been.
“The order is now being changed. We’re very sorry for the confusion and disruption.”