By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A disabled woman who ran up thousands of pounds worth of fines for defying a pollution-busting road block has had all her appeals so far rejected.
Ruby Sarwar, 48, of Caldwell Road, Lewisham, has been fined a total of £3,105 for 23 offences, in two months, and has four appeals pending.
She works in a school but suffers from Baker’s cyst, which causes intensely painful swelling of the legs.
As a result, Ms Sarwar says she has to take a short cut through the Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) to get to work, as the permitted route is much longer and causes her severe pain through repeated use of the clutch.
Her journey usually takes 15 minutes, but due to the LTN she says the recommended route would now take her more than an hour.
The Lewisham and Lee Green LTN was introduced in June last year in an attempt to combat emissions.
Ms Sarwar said she knew she was breaking the rules, but she says she had no choice.
She said: “Yes I saw the camera. I continued to go down because I had no option.
“I’ve lost a lot of my income due to the coronavirus.”
She says the fines could bankrupt her.
She said: “Before I was making about £1,400-1,500 per month, but now that’s down to £500 per month.
“I’ve got very little income left and I’m desperate to hold on to my job, and I’m in such a stressful situation that I need to be in work by 7.30am.
“I have noticed that the camera on Dermody Road has been removed for the last week, too.”
But despite her pleas to Lewisham council, Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan, and Lewisham East MP Janet Daby, not one of her fines has been cancelled.
Ms Sarwar sees this as an injustice, as neighbours of hers who she claims have also broken the LTN rules have had their fines annulled.
Michael Ruddy, 52, a building surveyor from nearby Burntash Road racked up nine fines within a fortnight. But had seven of them cleared and he says Lewisham Council never said why.
Mr Ruddy said he was fined for breaking rules he didn’t know existed, and blamed the fines on the poor signage.
He said: “I had no idea until I received them. All it said on the sign is that no entry to Lee High Road. There was no other signage apart from that. I had no idea I was breaking rules.”
Lewisham council said the scheme has been an enormous success and has led to a remarkable reduction in traffic.
“We have seen a 91 per cent drop in contraventions since the camera enforcement started, so the majority of people are following the rules,” said a spokesman.
Pictured top: Ruby Sarwar
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