Traffic wardens are being sent out to stop motorists being fined, council admits

Steve Bird
·3-min read
Traffic wardens are being used by Islington council to prevent motorists from being fined - Heathcliffe O'Malley
Traffic wardens are being used by Islington council to prevent motorists from being fined - Heathcliffe O'Malley

Traffic wardens are patrolling newly closed roads to stop motorists being fined amid claims council bosses are trying to prevent a backlash against Grant Shapps’s “green transport revolution” from affluent residents.

In a bizarre twist, Islington Council has despatched teams of parking enforcement officers to warn drivers new automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed after a series of roads were shut to traffic.

Councils across the country have made millions of pounds from issuing fixed penalty notices after creating hundreds of new cul-de-sacs as part of the Transport Secretary’s low traffic neighbourhood schemes intended to promote cycling and walking.

But campaigners who claim road closures increase pollution and traffic elsewhere say they are “amazed” traffic wardens who normally issue tickets are now stopping motorists from being fined.

Jody Graber, from the We Are Islington group fighting the roll-out of low traffic neighbourhoods in north London, critised the move as an attempt to try to avert opposition from those living in the most affluent areas of the borough.

Mr Graber, 41, said members of his group visited a number of streets in Highbury West last week where the council had just closed roads.

“We saw so many cars driving through unaware that they had triggered a fine that we started stopping traffic to explain the road was now closed,” he said.

“We stopped about £15,000 tickets being issued in just one hour. The next day we went along again but discovered the council had sent traffic wardens to warn motorists about the closed roads.

“We were amazed. I thought their job was to issue tickets. We have to ask why they are doing this in affluent areas like this - is it because the council doesn’t want to upset the well-to-do residents?

“We’ve not seen traffic wardens warning people in less well off areas about the risk of fines.”

An Islington Council spokesman said it will “take motorists, pedestrians and cyclists time to get used” to new “significant changes” in Highbury West after a number of roads were closed on January 11. Extra signs and teams of traffic warden were deployed to try to “increase compliance”.

He added: “In order to help people to familiarise themselves with the new scheme in Highbury West and to reduce levels of noncompliance, the council has instructed traffic wardens to warn motorists when they are approaching some of the camera-enforced traffic filters during peak times.

“Many of the motorists that are approached by traffic wardens in Highbury West will inevitably be non-local residents who are attempting to cut through the area. Traffic wardens were used in a similar way following the implementation of the Canonbury East people-friendly streets neighbourhood.”

Councillor Rowena Champion from Islington Council blamed sat navs for “directing traffic through residential areas” and causing more traffic, pollution and “road danger”.

“People-friendly streets are designed to address this situation, and to help the borough respond effectively to the continued fall in public transport capacity during the pandemic,” she said.

“The Highbury West people-friendly streets neighbourhood will help to create a safer, greener, healthier Islington where everyone, regardless of income, is able to travel safely and easily around the borough.”

The latest statistics released under Freedom of Information laws reveal nearly 6,000 tickets were issued in just over one month by five ANPR cameras installed to enforce new road closures in the west London borough of Ealing.

A total of 5,920 fines potentially raising more than £750,000 were sent out after roads were closed after a series of low traffic neighbourhoods were introduced.

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