Lewisham Council is set to make £1 million in traffic fines this year after installing a bus lane enforcement camera in Blackheath.
The council installed the camera after announcing plans to cut £60 million from its budget over the course of three years. The camera is set to be one of the highest earning in London, and echoes similar efforts from other councils.
The Blackheath camera has already generated more than 3,700 tickets, with a collective value of £220,000 in fines. The camera has been live for three months, suggesting that it could earn £900,000 on promptly paid tickets, which come at a 50% discount, but the actual figure is likely to be more than £1 million.
The camera only operates during peak travel times, from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm. But motorists claim that staying out of the lane means bringing traffic to a complete standstill when taking certain routes from the spot.
Criminal barrister Rupert Bowers, 39, is appealing against a ticket he was issued for straying into the lane. “It’s improper use of the delegated legislation to generate revenue,” he said.
David Wickman, 45, from New Cross, said two of his friends had been fined after being snapped by the camera: “Times are tough enough, and they can’t afford to shell out for fines. It’s a really unfair tactic by the council – the road is hectic at rush hour and it’s hard to avoid dipping into the bus lane to get out of the way of other traffic.”
“The cars get completely stuck if people don’t use the bus lane for a couple of seconds,” he said.
A Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Council revealed the figures. The council said in a statement: “The bus lane in Montpelier Vale has existed for over a decade.
“A CCTV camera started to be used for enforcement in September because drivers were not complying with the signs and this was having an adverse effect on the bus service.”