Cameras snare 12,000 drivers in 100-yard stretch of road in Swiss Cottage

Motorists have been stung with up to �1.5million of parking fines by a “forest of lethal cameras” on a 100-yard stretch of road in Swiss Cottage.

Shopkeepers say their customers have been scared away by three cameras which have snared 11,880 motorists over a year in 16 parking slots and 12 loading bays in Finchley Road.

The ticket tally accounts for three quarters of the total fines issued along the entire five miles of Finchley Road.

Drivers are pleading with Transport for London (TfL) to make the restrictions along Harben Parade clearer after new figures revealed the confusion created by a clutter of signs on the stretch of red road.

A spokesman for TfL said it was satisfied that signs for loading bays and 20-minute parking were clear. It has three cameras trained on the parking-fine black spot, and a fourth further down the road is set to be brough back into action.

Judy Graham, who won an appeal last month against a fine along Harben Parade, said TfL was using the area as a “cash cow”.

The 65-year-old, from Gondar Gardens, West Hampstead, said: “Those cameras are lethal, absolutely lethal.

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“They are like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, standing there bearing down on motorists who dare to try and park along Harben Parade.

“It’s a forest of signs and you really have to peer at them, get out of your car and have a look to be sure – and by then it is too late.”

Drivers can be fined up to �130.

Shop keeper Chan Patel, who has owned Euro Sports in Finchley Road for 30 years, said this was the worst business had ever been.

“It’s a total rip off, an organised legal extortion,” said the 59-year-old.

“It’s not just us, but quite a few shops are vacant. A new guy will come along rent the shops and after six month realise how much the parking situation is affecting business.

“If someone wants to pop in and get a pair of shoes they run the risk of a �130 fine.”

Three signs stand parallel to the road while the other five can be seen face-on by drivers. Campaigners say drivers cannot see the parallel signs and are unaware they are in a loading bay when they park.

Parking campaigner Paul Pearson, of the website, said: “I am pretty upset that here is a blindingly obvious example of where the signage is not compliant and TfL is getting it wrong and yet it insists it is not.

“Time and money should be spent on getting this right and all those motorists who have been fined along the stretch should be refunded.”

Paul Cowperthwaite, head of contracted services at TfL, said: “We recognise that there are both parking bays and loading bays at this location.

“We believe that the signage at this location is clear, however we are organising a meeting with local businesses to discuss any concerns they may have.”