Wandsworth Fines for Speeding in 20mph Zones 'Unlawful'

Government blocks sharing of driver information to issue PCNs

Priory Lane in Roehampton. Picture: Google Streetview

February 8, 2023

A trial scheme which saw drivers in Wandsworth borough become the first in England to face being fined by a local council for speeding has been blocked. The Department for Transport (DfT) has stopped Wandsworth Council contacting drivers caught breaking 20mph limits and said the way the authority used its powers to enforce it was “unlawful”.

The Labour-run council put up speed cameras to catch drivers breaking 20mph limits on two roads in the borough where residents often complain about speeding in November 2022. The eight-month pilot scheme meant drivers caught breaking the rules on Wimbledon Park Road and Priory Lane faced up to £130 fines from the council – with the penalty charge notice reduced to £65 if paid in 14 days – with no points added to their licences.

The council previously said the scheme could be made permanent and extended to other roads in the borough if successful, as well as being rolled out across the capital.

But the DfT told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it has asked the DVLA to stop sharing details of drivers caught speeding under the scheme with the council.

A DfT spokesperson said, “Wandsworth Council is carrying out this experimental speed enforcement trial using powers in a way that is unlawful.

“We have therefore taken immediate action and asked DVLA to stop sharing registered keeper details with Wandsworth Council for the purpose of enforcing this scheme.”

The council said it has dished out warning letters to drivers caught breaking the rules on the trial roads so far but has not handed out any fines. The authority said it is disappointed with the DfT’s decision and is in ongoing talks about the future of the trial.

Traffic studies conducted over eight weeks revealed one in four vehicles broke the speed limit in Priory Lane while in Wimbledon Park Road it was one in five, according to the council.

Speeding offences are usually enforced by the Met Police but the council said officers tend to concentrate on main roads and dual carriageways. The authority announced it was stepping in after revealing most of the complaints it receives are about drivers speeding on quieter residential streets.

The council said the number of vehicles travelling over 25mph on the roads has fallen from 13per cent to 6.6pc on the roads since the introduction of the scheme.

A Wandsworth Council spokesperson said, “We began this trial as part of our efforts to support the police and TfL with their speed enforcement work, and as our contribution to wider London efforts on Vision Zero.

“Since the start of the trial we have seen a 1mph reduction in speeds and the number of vehicles travelling over 25mph dropping from 13pc to 6.6pc on the trial roads and up until this point have notified motorists who have been found to have breached the speed limit with a warning letter but have not issued any fines.

“The Department for Transport has taken the decision to restrict access to details of registered vehicle keepers meaning we are now unable to contact drivers who are found to have been speeding. Naturally, we are disappointed with this decision and are having ongoing conversations with the Department for Transport regarding the future of the trial.

“We remain committed as a council to doing all that we can to reduce the danger posed by speeding vehicles on our roads and hope that the Department for Transport recognises and supports our commitment to ensuring safety on our roads.”

Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter