‘The high street is dying’: Stoke Newington traders slam ‘anti-business’ parking fines

High street parking fines

Triple whammy: businesses have been hit by repeated fines. Photograph: Jamie Johnson

Business owners on Stoke Newington High Street have blasted Transport for London (TfL) after it was revealed that over £1 million has been collected in parking fines on the high street in the last three years.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that 20,116 parking fines were issued between 2014 and 2016 – nearly 26 every weekday, or one every 20 minutes. The total in fines collected amounted to £1,016,884.

Commenting on their plight, a staff member at Hamdy’s newsagents said: “It’s like TfL are running their own business collecting money,” said . “It is not good for small businesses.”

Mahmood Tahir of Stokey Appliances agrees: “It just seems anti-business. The high street is dying,” he said.

“We get fined all the time. Over the last seven years I must have been slapped with around 100 tickets,” he said.

With the loading bay time outside his shop limited to 15 minutes, he claims it is almost impossible to unload his washing machines, fridges and ovens in time.

Speaking last October, Kenan Aktas, the owner of Akdeniz Sea Food, described the situation as “desperate.”

He says he was fined £360 in the space of four days for parking infringements when unloading stock from a lorry. “What do they expect me to do? I can’t afford to pay this every week,” he told the Hackney Citizen.

Now, he says he isn’t surprised by the £1 million that TfL has hoovered up collecting fines. “We were fined £65 again today. With business rates and bills rising and footfall decreasing, we could be in big trouble.”

According to a 2015 report by the RAC Foundation, Hackney Council gobbled up £10.8 million in parking fines.

Meanwhile, as Stoke Newington High Street is on a TfL red route, it is the London Mayor’s transport body that has been the beneficiary of fines issued on this 650-metre one-way thoroughfare.

One person who was not surprised by the sums collected was a TfL parking enforcement officer, dishing out a ticket outside the police station. Speaking anonymously, he said: “£1 million doesn’t shock me. I dole out at least five a day on my own. Then when you add in the cameras, those numbers add up.”

But he added that motorists’ frustrations have boiled over on multiple occasions. “I get abuse all the time. Shouting, swearing and even threats of violence. We get some support from the police, but I do worry that one day I’ll be assaulted.”

He said that there had to be a balance between unloading stock and allowing traffic to flow freely. “The bays are free to use. They are designed to help businesses,” he said.

Commenting on the situation, Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement and On-street Operations, said: “We enforce traffic regulations on the Capital’s Red Routes, including parking offences, and our overriding focus is to reduce delays, keep road users safe and to keep London working and growing.

“This benefits everyone and supports economic life locally in Hackney and across the city. Red Routes are the main arterial roads in London, representing only 5 per cent of the total road length but carrying more than 30 per cent of the traffic.

“All revenue generated by enforcement activity is reinvested in maintaining and improving the transport network.”