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Islington’s drivers are fined £1million a month

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:34 04 August 2016

Parking meter stock picture: Jonathan Brady/PA

Parking meter stock picture: Jonathan Brady/PA

PA/Press Association Images

Islington Council made £12million fining motorists for parking and traffic offences last year. Where does the money go? The council is clearly vigilant, but is it fair? James Morris and Eleanor Peake find out.

Ian Campbell, owner of Borough Wines and Beers, sees much of the Englefield Road warden activity from his shop. Picture: Polly HancockIan Campbell, owner of Borough Wines and Beers, sees much of the Englefield Road warden activity from his shop. Picture: Polly Hancock

Islington Council fined motorists £12.4million in the last financial year – with £5.6m of unpaid notices still to come.

Figures obtained by the Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act show 191,971 penalties were issued across the borough’s 877 roads and streets.

Of these, about two-thirds were parking offences, with the remainder for “moving traffic offences” such as driving in bus lanes.

Riversdale Road, Highbury, and Englefield Road, off Essex Road, saw by far the most offences, with 8,202 and 7,429 tickets. These two roads alone made the council over £1m in 2015/16, with about £400,000 worth of tickets still unpaid.

For Ian Campbell, owner of Borough Wines and Beer at the Englefield Road junction with Essex Road, the figures come as no surprise.

“A lot of the parking tickets are issued in the bay outside my shop,” he says. “It only fits a maximum three cars. But the attendants are clearly very hot on it.

Ian Campbell, owner of Borough Wines and Beers, sees much of the Englefield Road warden activity from his shop. Picture: Polly HancockIan Campbell, owner of Borough Wines and Beers, sees much of the Englefield Road warden activity from his shop. Picture: Polly Hancock

“It’s obvious the council has knowledge that Englefield Road is a good place for tickets. It’s definitely well patrolled, but people must be really careless.

“It’s a quiet residential street, so I guess it looks innocuous. People shopping in Essex Road must think there is no danger of being caught.”

From 2011/12 to 2014/15, the council made similar amounts of about £11m each year.

As an authority reeling from government cuts – £25m in the last year alone – one might suspect these penalty notices are a convenient way of boosting stricken finances.

Not the case. By law, these surpluses must be re-invested in Islington’s transport services.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s transport leader, explains: “Money from fines for on-street and moving traffic contraventions are re-invested into improving parking, highways, and road safety. The council doesn’t profit from these.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe pictured two years ago on a Cllr Claudia Webbe pictured two years ago on a "switch off your engine" campaign

Electrician Colin Forster works in Upper Street. He claimed on Monday he gets parking fines up to three times a week.

But Islington has the third highest concentration of cars per hectare in England and Wales. and Cllr Webbe says the vigilance of parking attendants is necessary.

“Spaces are at a premium. We are also the most densely populated borough in the country and there are more cars than available parking spaces.

“Space for parking needs to be carefully managed and parking controls help us properly protect residents, while also supporting local business by providing a reasonably priced flat fee.”

She adds: “Drivers are only issued with a moving traffic fine if they’re in a yellow box or bus lane when they shouldn’t be, and effectively monitoring these is a positive step towards helping keep London moving.”

It appears some motorists are able to get away with their violations, however. From 2011/12, for example, £232k worth of penalty notices remain unpaid. The council admits the majority of these are cases in which the offending motorists cannot be traced, and the cases have expired. From 2012/13, £595k remains unpaid, with £221k from 2013/14 and £2.9m from 2014/15.

For a list of the top 75 streets, see today’s print edition of the Gazette. A full list will be published online tomorrow.

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