Low traffic zones cost London drivers £100m in fines over three years

Town Halls dolled out a staggering 1.1million fines between 2019 and 2022, according to new analysis. Critics say the hated low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) schemes are being used as “cash cows” to fill council coffers.

The government has handed town halls hundreds of millions of pounds for LTNs since the start of the Covid pandemic, to encourage a long term shift away from car travel towards walking and cycling.

But research by the TaxPayers Alliance found that just fifteen councils accounted for £95 million in fines on motorists for LTN violations since 2019.

Between 2019 and 2022 the number and value of fines imposed increased 97 fold, according to the TPA data which was obtained in a series of freedom of information requests.

In 2019/20 there were 13,048 fines with a potential value of £701,675.

The following year this shot up to 372,257 fines, with a potential value of £25,786,367, and rocketed to 752,988 fines with a potential value of £68,147,135 in 2021/22.

The councils who have imposed the most fines by value are all London boroughs – Lambeth, Ealing, Lewisham, Southwark and Hounslow.

Lambeth dished out 147,612 in fines, worth a total of £19,189,560.

Since their introduction LTNs have been highly controversial, with Ealing Council removing seven out of nine LTNs after a report found they caused “no material change in air quality” and provoked the anger of residents.

Four councils – Salford, Harrow, Kingston and Leeds – have imposed LTNs without resorting to punishing fines, suggesting that councils can achieve goals of reducing traffic without hitting drivers.

The exact amount the councils have received from fines for LTN violations is not known, as most councils only provided the potential value of fines if paid at the full amount – not at the discounted rate.

Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers will be worried that LTNs are just another cash cow to fill council coffers.

“Residents are already driven round the bend by some of these schemes, which seem designed to punish drivers more than achieving traffic reductions.

“Councils should put the brakes on LTNs and ensure they’re working for local residents and road users.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “All money boroughs receive from PCN fines legally must be reinvested in improving transport in the borough.

“Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are council-run schemes and are helping to tackle our city’s filthy air quality, supporting the huge increase in cycling and walking since the pandemic, and also making roads safer.

“LTNs reduce road dangers and clear up London’s air to make communities safer and greener. Boroughs are continuing to work closely with residents, emergency services and local retailers to make improvements where needed.

It’s vital that we don’t replace one health crisis with another caused by air pollution. Bold decisions must be taken to help save the lives of Londoners and ensure we are creating a better, safer and greener city for all Londoners.“

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