Gospel Oak traffic camera that raised £5million to stay ‘because Camden Council hooked on PCN cash’

Resident Ruth Jackson and Cllr Chris Knight at the timed restriction in Grafton Road, which has rais

Resident Ruth Jackson and Cllr Chris Knight at the timed restriction in Grafton Road, which has raised millions for Camden Council. Picture: Charlie Bard - Credit: Archant

Camden Council is not doing enough to improve the borough’s most notorious traffic fine hotspot because it is “hooked” on the multi-million pound income, it was claimed this week.

Conservative opposition councillor Chris Knight spoke out after the council pledged to keep the timed restriction in Grafton Road, Gospel Oak, with limited changes, following a review.

Cllr Knight accused officials of doing little to curb the numbers of penalty charge notices (PCNs) generated because they are addicted to the money raised.

More than £5million in fines has been issued since a CCTV camera was installed in 2005 to police a ban on driving southbound along Grafton Road on weekday mornings and northbound in the evenings.

The Hampstead Town councillor, who held the transport brief before Labour took control of the town hall in 2010, said: “The council is hooked on the cash and has not done enough work to resolve the question of the junction. They will still carry on getting a decent number of PCNs out of this.”

The council plans to improve the signage by installing a “variable” electronic sign, like those on motorways. But when the restriction was first installed in 2002 – to stop Grafton Road being used as a rat-run – there were automatically-rising bollards that physically stopped drivers from breaking the rules. These were turned off in 2005 and replaced with camera enforcement.

Cllr Knight is calling for the council to restore the bollards – an option he thinks was not seriously considered because it would wipe out fines revenue.

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Some 36,833 tickets have been handed out since April 2008 at a rate of more than 20 per day. The council collected more than £2.1m in that period, including £354,064 in 2012/13.

Motorists frequently complain of being baffled by the multiple signs and the layout. Ruth Jackson, of nearby Oak Village, who also wants to see the bollards brought back, said: “I live about 30metres away and I have had lots of fines, because you forget and don’t see the signs.”

Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for sustainability and transport, said that the bollard option was given “full consideration”.

“The option now being progressed will continue to deliver benefits to local people whilst improving driver understanding of the timed closure.”