|Critics Round on Council over Traffic Fines|
Accusing it of entrapment and "utter contempt for residents"
Critics have rounded on Hammersmith and Fulham Council following this week's BBC Panorama programme which appeared to show officials congratulating each other for high levels of traffic fines.
Or as the council itself referred to the reports, "using motorists as cash cows".
Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter says that, on top of yellow box junctions such as the notorious Bagley's Lane junction in Fulham, nicknamed the Money Box, the council now appear to be "setting traps for motorists", for instance in Fulham Palace Road north of Lillie Road, where concrete barriers down the middle of the road have been replaced with CCTV cameras.
Mr Slaughter says this is obviously less effective in preventing illegal turns, but they will raise money from motorists ignoring or not seeing the signs.
He adds that the admission that the council holds no information about "the relationship between traffic flow and CCTV" shows this is only about raising money, often by sleight of hand, and has nothing to do with congestion.
He says: " It’s a fact of life that drivers, especially in London, have to obey a whole host of traffic and parking rules and regulations or risk heavy fines.
" But what Hammersmith & Fulham are doing is tricking motorists, manipulating the system and using entrapment to rake in millions of pounds every year.
"This is not, by their own admission, aimed at cutting congestion, but simply to extort money from residents, visitors, businesses and customers."
London Green Party have also strongly criticised the council for its "short term transport vision". Spokesperson Caroline Russell says: "Whilst campaigners both inside and outside the Green Party are pushing for necessary changes to be made to road layouts and speed limits to help make roads a pleasant environment for cyclists and pedestrians, Hammersmith council seem intent on milking existing layouts for all they are worth.
" If the council is rejoicing in news that fines from motorists are on the up we can only conclude that they have no intention of reducing the amount of traffic passing through the borough as that would lead to a reduction in their revenue. This is extremely concerning given the huge environmental and physical benefits that come from reducing the number of cars on our roads and encouraging people to walk or get on their bikes.
" We need a far more positive and progressive approach from Hammermsith and Fulham Council – one that reflects, for instance, the exciting announcement made by City Hall last Friday that introducing 20mph speed limits across London is now being seriously considered."
Local campaigner Andrew Ashe, who obtained much of the information on the Panorama programme through Freedom of Information requests, says the council are treating residents with "utter contempt".
He told the Fulham Chronicle: " In my view it shows the council has behaved in appalling manner. It hasn't bothered looking into the impact this has on people's lives and it's fining people more than they would be for shoplifting.
"It is showing utter contempt for residents - councils should be there to serve and once they would have taken pride in that. But now the only thing they're interested in is trying to fleece as much money out of people as possible. It incenses me and is damaging the quality of life here."
June 14, 2013