FUMING residents say they feel like they are living in “North Korea” after a camera system installed by a council to reduce traffic made their life a misery.
Locals in Fulham, south west London, are being forced to register every single vehicle entering a restricted zone with ticketing company RingGo if an engine is not registered with a council permit.
That means anyone from outside the borough, including tradesmen, caregivers and residents’ friends, must ensure they are registered by a permit holder to even think of entering the surveillance zone.
The scheme – dubbed “abuse” by one resident – was put forward by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to reduce traffic in the borough and stop “rat-running” cars taking shortcuts through sleepy streets.
The council also argues that the scheme was designed to reduce pollution, which they say has fallen by “12 per cent” since the cameras were installed in July 2020.
However, some residents insist the opposite has happened and vehicles are being forced onto a single lane road, causing “horrible” traffic jams with no other route options available to ease the pressure from a major bottleneck.
Resident Caroline Shuffrey said the scheme has also resulted in women being “kicked out” of Uber cabs late at night because drivers didn’t want to risk the hefty £60 fine for entering the zone.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the 66-year-old said: “It’s abuse. We have been abused.
“My daughter had to walk 15 minutes at 2am because her Uber kicked her out and wouldn’t go any further.”
A resident told The Sun that a woman with cancer who needs specialist support has been going through a “nightmare” since the cameras were brought in as she scrambles to make plans for her way to and from the hospital.
The exclusion zone runs along the east side of the single lane Wandsworth Bridge Road, one of the busiest roads in the borough, in the Sands End borough.
But the scheme could be expanded much further, and could one day even swallow the entire borough under a low-traffic neighborhood scheme, according to plans by The Sun.
Supporters of the scheme insist there was “extensive” consultation before the cameras were thrown up, but opponents claim it was “minimal”.
Speaking to The Sun, a resident claimed any form of discussion with the council about resolving the issues or finding an alternative to the camera carnage was akin to “North Korea”.
The council – which is led by Labor – said it did not recognize such a label.
Supporters of the cameras told The Sun that there are specific routes that mean cameras can be avoided as they enter and exit the zone.
But those who are unaware, like orderlies and handymen, are routinely fined and it just makes getting around a ‘nightmare’.
In one prominent incident, a resident said he had to take his elderly mother-in-law to the edge of the zone just to get her in a cab.
They “fear” for the elderly, who have no assistance and no permits, meaning the family cannot visit the area and have to park outside the area.
Donald Grant, who lives on Wandsworth Bridge Road, says conditions are now “terrible” thanks to the system’s “brainless” inventors who forced traffic onto his road with no other options.
He said those behind the program “need to go back to school.”
Another local resident who lived on the same street only gave his name as Jamie claimed the cameras made his street “dangerous”.
He explained: “The increased traffic has meant that most nights and especially on Friday it has come to a total standstill, people often don’t stop at crosswalks and it has become quite dangerous.”
The cameras are also banging on local businesses.
Georgiana George, who runs a multi-award-winning guest house and her own psychotherapy practice, says she was “very” struck by the cameras.
The effects have been so devastating that since the cameras were introduced, their guest house has declined in popularity, with customers complaining that they are being fined.
But many residents support the cameras, and those who want them installed as part of a program have welcomed them, arguing they will stop rat-runner vehicles from cruising their streets.
One resident, who gave only his name as Sej, admitted the system, which requires residents to register friends’ number plates, is “cumbersome” and “difficult”.
However, he added: “I think in terms of blocking through traffic through residential streets, I think it’s the right decision.”
“Get Out of Your Car”
Another resident said: “The fact that Labor continued to hold Sands End ward and full council at the last election suggests there is no significant dissatisfaction with the scheme.”
One person, who asked not to be named, slammed: “The world can’t have everything.
“If you want a better environment, you have to get out of the car.”
Uber taxis have adjusted their systems to ensure drivers can navigate the zone.
But decisions made while driving in the area are ultimately made by the driver, meaning fares can still be kicked out if the driver sees a warning sign.
A spokesman for the council said: “This pioneering air quality program was developed by local residents working with our environmental engineers to address a decades-old traffic problem.
“All residents have free access everywhere, but it stops the rat race of motorists outside the borough.
“It makes life better by reducing NOx pollution by 60% while taking a ton of CO2 and 8,000 cars a day off our roads.
“That’s why local residents are now asking us to test it west of Wandsworth Bridge Road.”
“Fifty-six sensors fitted to existing lamp columns have been monitoring multiple particles and gases across South Fulham.
“The data, used in conjunction with the latest smart-tech traffic monitoring systems, help explain the impact of traffic reduction on air pollution and has enabled the Council to develop measures to reduce traffic, congestion and pollution.”
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