LTN resident forced to pay £300 to bailiffs after council sent penalty notice to wrong address

·5 min read
LTNs have been rolled out as part of a “green transport revolution” - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley
LTNs have been rolled out as part of a “green transport revolution” - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley

A resident in a controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood was forced to pay almost £300 to bailiffs after council officials sent a fixed penalty notice to the wrong address.

Ava Zoccola, 20, from Dulwich in south London claimed that she was “antagonised by two men attempting to barge past me and into our home” - despite not knowing Southwark Council had issued a fine five months earlier.

Her father, Tony Zoccola, 58, a small business owner, was handed a £65 fixed penalty notice in June 2021 for driving through the Dulwich Village northbound LTN, which he claims was by accident due to poor signage.

The Telegraph revealed last week that cash cow LTN cameras in Dulwich raked in £6.6 million for the council last year alone, including £3.8 million from the one that caught Mr Zoccola. Another £500,000 in fines was issued in the first three months of 2022.

The LTN was quietly rolled out in the suburb at the start of the pandemic as part of the “green transport revolution” announced by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary.

The LTN was quietly rolled out in the suburb at the start of the pandemic as part of the 'green transport revolution' announced by Grant Shapps - Stefan Rousseau/PA
The LTN was quietly rolled out in the suburb at the start of the pandemic as part of the 'green transport revolution' announced by Grant Shapps - Stefan Rousseau/PA

It has promoted a furious backlash from locals, who claim it was “imposed” upon them, with surveys by residents groups showing pollution has soared.

Now, documents seen by The Telegraph show the Zoccola family had to pay £278 to Marston Recovery, a bailiff firm sent out by Southwark Council to recover “debt,” which had spiralled from their £130 fine, which would have been halved to £65 if paid promptly.

A notice of enforcement sent by Marston Recovery shows more than £500 was initially sought from her, while her father was out at work. She was awarded £300 in compensation for the conduct of the bailiffs.

Ms Zoccola, a law student at King’s College London, alleged that: “They attempted to barge past me - I had to put my hand out to stop them. They also threatened to remove the two vehicles on my driveway without checking whose name they were registered in.

“There was also some appalling comments made - one of them said ‘it’s not our fault you can’t pay your parking fines' - there was no awareness of the situation whatsoever, really unprofessional, poor conduct. It was ridiculous that it even got to that stage.”

After she complained, Marston Recovery wrote to her to apologise and accepted that “the agent attempted to gain access to your property before our customer was present” and that “the agent should have asked for proof of ownership of the vehicles located at the property before threatening to clamp and remove these”.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have proved to be controversial - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have proved to be controversial - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley

A spokesman for Marston Holdings, the parent company of Marston Recovery, said: "The enforcement stage fee was removed during the visit in recognition of the customer’s frustration regarding their address.

"After reviewing Body Worn Video footage of the visit we did not uphold complaints against the enforcement agent’s conduct, but offered a goodwill payment in an effort to resolve the complaint. All complainants can have their case reviewed by our Independent Advisory Group, and we have chosen to refer this case to them ourselves”.

Southwark Council said it was sent two different addresses by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the system is automated.

A DVLA spokesman said it was only a record-keeper and could not explain the error further due to data protection laws. A DVLA source suggested the former owner of the vehicle may have registered an incorrect address.

But Ms Zoccola accused the council of creating a “trap” in the picturesque Dulwich suburb so they can receive “financial gain from people driving through without realising”.

She said that neither she nor her father had changed any car registration details with the DVLA or the council or entered anything incorrectly. “It doesn’t make sense - it has to be a mistake, the wrong address was too similar for it not to be an input error,” she claimed.

The Telegraph has also seen an unrelated, separate fine issued to the same vehicle in August 2021, which was sent to the correct address - two months after the other fine sent to the wrong address for the same number plate.

Protesters against an LTN in Ealing in 2020 - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley
Protesters against an LTN in Ealing in 2020 - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley

“I think the general incompetence of the council really shines through here, we explicitly told them that our address was wrong and therefore requested a response by email and they still managed to respond to us by post,” Ms Zoccola said.

“It’s draconian - those LTNs in Dulwich Village came out of absolutely nowhere and so many people have been getting caught off guard by them. This whole green initiative put behind these LTNs and the enforcement - it’s not green for the environment, it’s greed.”

A DVLA spokesman said: “When we receive a request for information we will provide the keeper details as held on the record at that time.

“It’s important that motorists tell us straightaway when they sell or transfer their vehicle so that we can update our records. When completing a V5C to sell or transfer a vehicle both the existing and new keepers must declare that the information being provided is correct.”

Cllr Catherine Rose, a cabinet member at Southwark Council, said: “These measures are designed to reduce the amount of through traffic in Dulwich, a long-standing problem for local people.

“They are also necessary to help improve air quality, road safety and accessibility. In addition, we want to help local people to leave their cars at home for short journeys and be more active, healthy and happy.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting