IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Drivers get ticket refunds after Highbury road spelling bungle

Islington finds penalty charge notices are invalid after getting name wrong

27 September, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Arvon Road – not ‘Avron Road’

A BASIC spelling blunder has forced the Town Hall to pay back scores of traffic penalties to drivers, the Tribune can reveal.

Islington Council issued a red-faced apology after it emerged its enforcers had issued 176 invalid Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) in a Highbury road.

Cameras had been set up in Arvon Road in March this year as part of the council’s flagship “school streets” scheme, which banned cars from driving down roads next to schools during certain hours.

But one hawk-eyed driver caught by the camera discovered that the road name had been misspelled as “Avron Road” and not “Arvon Road” on the ticket.

They successfully launched an appeal against the penalty by arguing that they could not have committed a breach of the rules in a road that did not exist.

This led to a panicked scramble as Town Hall chiefs tried to correct the embarrassing error in May.

Roughly 100 people have already paid the fines which start at £130, but can be cut by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days.

An Islington Council spokeswoman said this week: “We’re sorry that these parking fines were issued incorrectly. We’re looking into how this happened and are looking into what steps we can take to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“The council will cancel all of the incorrectly issued parking fines and refund those that have already been paid.”

Caroline Russell, who is Green ward councillor for Highbury East which covers Arvon Road, said: “Spelling the name of the right road is step one, it is primary school level stuff. This is ridiculous.

“They have made a mistake and they must contact all the drivers who were done for this and tell them what has happened. They cannot in all conscience keep that money if they have made this error.”

Back in 2013, the council issued up to £1million worth of parking tickets which were later deemed illegal in Drayton Park Road.

There was further out­rage at the time when the council decided not to proactively contact those who had been stung by the fines.

Terry Stacey, who led the council when the Liberal Democrats ran Islington, said: “This is yet more parking incompetence from this council. They should do the decent and honest thing and refund these people due to their incompetence.”

As the Tribune has previously reported, the environment and regeneration department, which oversees parking offences, has allegedly been the subject of several whistleblowing reports and an internal investigation has been played out behind closed doors. The council has insisted that further details of the concerns that have been raised must stay confidential.

While they were installed as a measure to tackle toxic air near places of learning for young children, school streets cameras have proved lucrative for the council.

In the past four years the council issued a combined total of 568 tickets in Arvon Road. Yet in just three months from April to June this year, 638 drivers were penalised.

Cameras have been set up in streets outside of 11 primary schools across the borough and the council is planning to roll it out further in the coming months.

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