FUMING residents say they feel like they are living in “North Korea” after a camera system installed by a council to cut traffic has made their lives a misery.
Locals in Fulham, south west London, are forced to log every single vehicle that enters an exclusion zone with ticketing company RingGo if a motor is not registered with a council permit.
It means everyone from outside the borough, including tradesman, carers and pals of residents have to ensure they are registered by a permit holder to even think about getting into the surveillance zone.
The scheme – slammed as “abuse” by one resident – was brought in by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to cut traffic in the borough and stop “rat running” cars taking shortcuts down sleepy streets.
The council also argue the scheme was intended to cut pollution, which they claim has fallen “12 percent” since the cameras were installed in July 2020.
But some residents insist the opposite has happened and vehicles are are forced onto a single lane road leading to “horrific” congestion with no other route options to ease pressure off a major choke point.
Resident Caroline Shuffrey said the scheme has also seen women getting “kicked out” of Uber taxis late at night because drivers don’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 two-in-the-morning because her Uber kicked her out and did not want to go any further.”
One resident told The Sun a woman with cancer requiring specialist support is living a “nightmare” since the cameras were brought in as she struggles to make plans to go to and from the hospital.
The exclusion zone runs alongside the east side of single lane Wandsworth Bridge Road, one of the busiest routes in the borough, in the Sands End ward.
But the scheme could be expanded much further and one day could even swallow the entire borough under a Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme, according to plans seen by The Sun.
Supporters of the scheme insist there was “extensive” consultation before the cameras were thrown up, but opponents claim this was “minimal”.
Speaking to The Sun, one resident claimed any form of discussion with the council on addressing the issues or to seek an alternative to camera carnage is akin to “North Korea”.
The council – which is Labour run – said they did not recognise such a label.
Supporters of the cameras told The Sun there are specific routes which if taken in and out of the zone mean cameras can be avoided.
But those unaware of this, like carers and tradespeople, are regularly fined and it makes simply getting around “a nightmare”.
In one stand out incident, one resident said they had to walk their elderly mother-in-law to the edge of the zone just to get them in a taxi.
They “fear” for the elderly who don’t have help and don’t hold permits meaning family can’t visit and must park outside the area.
Donald Grant who lives on Wandsworth Bridge Road says conditions are now “horrific” thanks to the “brainless” inventors of the scheme who have forced traffic onto his road with no other options.
He said those behind the scheme “need to go back to school”.
Another resident living on the same road who only gave their name as Jamie claimed the cameras have made his road “dangerous”.
He explained: “The increased traffic has led to it being a total standstill most evenings and particularly on Friday, people often fail to stop at pedestrian crossings and it has become quite dangerous.”
The cameras are hammering local businesses, too.
Georgiana George who runs a multi-award winning guest house and her own psychotherapy practice says she has “very much” taken a hit from the cameras.
The impact has been so devastating that her guest house has fallen in popularity since the cameras were brought into force and clients complain they are getting walloped with fines.
But many residents are supportive of the cameras and those set to have them installed as part of a scheme have welcomed them, arguing they will stop rat runner vehicles diving down their streets.
A resident who only gave his name as Sej admitted the system where residents have to register pal’s number plates is “a pain” and “difficult”.
Though he added: “I think in terms of blocking through traffic from going through residential streets I think it is the right decision.”
‘GET OUT YOUR CAR’
Another resident said: “That Labour continued to hold Sands End ward and the council as a whole in the recent elections suggests there isn’t significant dissatisfaction with the scheme.”
One person who did not want to be named, slammed: “The world can’t have it all.
“If you want a better environment you need to get out of your car.”
Uber taxis have adapted their systems to ensure drivers can navigate the zone.
But decisions made while driving in the area are ultimately taken by the driver, meaning fares could still be kicked out when the driver sees a warning sign.
A council spokesperson said: “This pioneering air quality scheme was designed by residents working with our environmental engineers to tackle a decades-old traffic problem.
“All residents get free access everywhere but it stops rat-running by out-of-borough motorists.
“It makes life better by reducing NOx pollution by 60% while taking one tonne of CO2 and 8,000 cars a day off our streets.
“That’s why residents are now asking us to trial it to the west of Wandsworth Bridge Road.”
“Fifty-six sensors attached to existing lamp columns have been monitoring multiple particulates and gases across South Fulham.
“The data, used alongside the latest smart tech traffic monitoring systems, helps explain the effect of traffic reduction on air pollution and has enabled the council to develop measures to reduce traffic, congestion and pollution.”
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