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Hackney Council issues 6,500 fines in one month to drivers after Mare Street left turn ban

PUBLISHED: 13:44 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 10 August 2018

Drivers complained they hadn't noticed the sign. Picture: Polly Hancock

Drivers complained they hadn't noticed the sign. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

An eye-watering 6,500 fines were dished out in less than a month to drivers who carried on making a left turning off Mare Street after it was banned, the Gazette can reveal.

A car turning left into Richmond Road from Mare Street. Picture: Polly HancockA car turning left into Richmond Road from Mare Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

This week we reported on Derek Rochester, who’d received six £65 fines from the town hall after being caught out by the new measures at the junction with Richmond Road.

Vehicles can no longer turn left into the road between 7am and 10am, and 3pm and 7pm, from Monday to Saturday – due to the introduction of a school street outside London Fields Primary School in Westgate Street.

But Derek, the maintenance chief at Space in Mare Street, claims the council didn’t do enough to let drivers know before the June 6 introduction. And he’s not alone.

Figures reveal in that month alone, 4,589 drivers were issued 6,596 fines. And the Gazette has heard from some of them.

• A 74-year-old Islington Council worker who has driven the same route for 30 years was slapped with 21 fines of £65 – that’s a bill of £1,365. He is said to be “extremely stressed” and Islington is now appealing on his behalf.

• Teachers at the Urswick School in Paragon Road have, between them, received 14 fines.

Valda Esterhuizen got six of those. She told the Gazette: “They have failed to make drivers aware of this change by an abject failure to post signs warning of a change to road layout.

“Paragon Road has now become a main route for all traffic diverted by the restricted access to surrounding roads.

“This means pupils at Urswick have to contend with early morning pollution from the new school streets measures brought in to improve air quality and make roads safer for pupils.”

• Ahmed Khellaf has got a comparatively modest nine tickets – £585 worth – and had appeals rejected.

He said: “I went to the council and there were over 30 people there to complain about the same thing.

“They took 26 days to send the first PCN out so in that time I had offended many more times, some even twice a day.”

• Another driver got 11 tickets, and then had appeals rejected. He now says he is taking the council to a tribunal.

The scheme is being run as a nine-month trial. Westgate Street is now a pedestrian-, bus- and cycle-only zone for 45 minutes, twice a day, at school opening and closing times. It is not active at weekends or during school holidays.

A “bus gate” has been installed at the junction of Landsdowne Drive and Trederwen Road to stop anything that isn’t a bus going around the school to the south, and to stop rat running.

Traffic jams caused by the bus gate were the reason for the left-turn ban into Richmond Road, the council has said, which is why the two measures operate during the same hours.

The council rearranged one of the signs early July after complaints it was too high for drivers to see. And following our last article, it said plans were in place to make the signs clearer.

But London Fields campaigner Mike Hood said he flagged concerns about the lack of warnings the day before the scheme came in.

He said: “That assurance [of more signs] does not help or support the 4,589 drivers who have been caught up in this highway robbery scheme.”

On Newsnight in May, mayor Phil Glanville said the aim of the school streets scheme was not for anyone to get fined but to change attitudes to driving around schools.

The council rearranged one of the signs early July after complaints it was too high for drivers to see.

Hackney Council said the fines, which total £428,000, were issued correctly as the signs met all Department for Transport requirements.

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