By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A disabled grandmother ran up £1,300 in fines – and expects more in the post – after infringing new pollution-busting road blocks.
Maria Forsmark, 57, of Verdant Lane in Hither Green, did not realise she was driving her daughter to school through a bus gate in the controversial new Low Traffic Neighbourhood zone in Lee Green – 21 times in five weeks.
But she has had all but one scrapped after the intervention of the South London Press. “We are so relieved and grateful,” she said.
Her woes came to light on Tuesday after it emerged Lewisham council had bagged £3million in fines through the LTN scheme.
The Lewisham and Lee Green LTN, introduced in June, uses camera-enforced barriers instead of road blocks, to allow buses through in Ennersdale Road, Dermody Road, Manor Lane and Manor Park
But thousands of drivers have driven through the barriers and faced fines of £65 – or £130 if they don’t pay up within two weeks. The proceeds must go back into transport.
Twenty of Mrs Forsmark’s fines were in Manor Lane – two of them on the same day. But the first fine letters did not arrive until three weeks after the event.
She had thought she was going to have to sell the car to pay for the fines – all after her husband lost his job amid lockdown.
Maria, who walks with a stick and is unable to work after injuring herself on a broken pavement in 2011, said she had not understood the “bus gate” signage.
“Suddenly all these envelopes came in the post,” she said.
Her daughter, 35, who did not want to be named, said: “Loads of people are annoyed about it, and they see it as a way of the council retrieving money at a time when it shouldn’t be.
“It’s very unclear. Numerous people in the area who are all really miffed about the fines.
“If the signs had said ‘cars are banned’, then my mum would definitely not have driven down that road.
“She is ecstatic about them all being cancelled apart from one. We are so grateful to the South London Press – we know we could not have done it without you.”
Another resident, former Mercury sports editor Peter Cordwell, 72, asked the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, to cancel the fines.
He said: “The signage is pitiful and everyone in the Lee area and elsewhere sees it as an easy way for the council to make money at the expense of defenceless residents.
“What the mayor should do is end it completely and cancel all fines, repaying those who have coughed up.”
In an email, mayor Egan said: “People shouldn’t receive more than two fines. We’re looking into why some people are receiving multiple fines.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Cameras have been installed at a number of locations in the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood. We encourage all drivers to adhere to the restrictions and therefore avoid fines being issued.”
Lewisham has announced it will soon allow vehicles, except lorries, through barriers in Manor Lane and cars to travel one way through gates in Ennersdale Road and Dermody Road. Blue Badge holders would be able to drive through barriers.
Pictured top: Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan, and one of the roads closed by the LTN
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