Outrage in Walworth over ‘three and four figure’ fines racked up after Low Emissions Neighbourhood installed

Katherine Johnston (20 January, 2021)

Drivers say they are paying the price for poor signage

40559A filter in Southwark

Motorists who unwittingly drove through a section of road closed go traffic as part of Walworth’s low emissions neighbourhoods are receiving three and even four-figure fines despite ‘inadequate’ signage.

A thread set up by driver Clive Stokes – who has received nine penalty charge notices so far – on neighbourhood networking site NextDoor, has generated hundreds of comments from people stung by the same spot at the corner of Braganza Street and Manor Place.

The closure is part of a wider initiative to help reduce traffic, aid social distancing, and reduce dangerous pollution levels.

The implementation of the scheme, including times and communication, have been criticised – and now residents say they are paying the price.

Clive is not the only person to have received multiple fines, often covering the same day.  At least twelve drivers, from Walworth, Kennington and Camberwell have all racked up nearly £4,000 of penalties. The majority arrived in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

One driver, Barnaby Spikings, wrote that he had received four fines so far and was ‘terrified’ of receiving more after losing his job due to COVID-19. A warning letter arrived in December – before he had even received the fines.

Meanwhile, Walworth resident Caroline Lee says without driving down Manor Place she is unable to leave home unless she goes in a huge loop around the Elephant.

But despite using the road as access only she has received eleven fines so far with nine arriving in the post in one day. She said she was ‘disgusted’ by the situation.

Those fined argue as residents they should be able to access the closed section of road to avoid lengthy, one-way journeys, and argue that early signage in particular when the changes were implemented in July was ‘inadequate’ and still not clear to people unfamiliar with the new layout – especially in the dark.

They are also concerned that problems with the post means people already struggling with their finances are wracking up needless debt.

One ward councillor, Alice Macdonald, has said she is raising the problem with the council as she agrees the signage and communication has ‘not been good enough’.

A public consultation was held on temporary road closures, generating thousands of comments on an online map of suggested sites, but many businesses and residents say they had no advance warning and have taken issue with a lack of access south of Brandon Estate.

The News has contacted Southwark Council for comment.

David says:

It’s incredible that Southwark Council have implemented this so badly. It is now 22nd January and Google Maps and my car navigation (which does not use Google maps) both route through here.

The whole area here is a mess – the council failed to clean up the Manor Place development and have kept it as narrow access. The signage was so small and inconsistent when implemented and hasn’t improved much despite the council having another go at improving it.

It is simply cruel that the council would send out 1 PCN one day and then send out more and more in the following days before the vehicle owner even received the first. It must be causing huge worry and stress for people. There should have been warning letters being sent to drivers and a period of time left – say 14 days – before any further PCN’s being issued.

The whole thing smacks of an out of touch council that is interested in raising revenue only with no regard to residents.

John sneath says:

Just received a second fine from well before Christmas without any warning letter. 1st February.
Is this a Southwark cash cow or is it really for environmental reasons.

diana says:

It is illegal if Southwark have not put up clear signs . Contest the fines and get them on the legality of the signage . They cant have it both ways . Living in London now is becoming near on impossible .

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