A motorhome owner has been hit with a £2,000 bill after driving to and from a campsite in London’s low emission zone (LEZ) during the Easter weekend.
Geoffrey Eaton, 53, from Colchester, travelled to the capital on Good Friday with his wife Linda, 53, and their two children Adam, 16, and Elizabeth, 13, to visit family for what promised to be a “relatively cheap” and “fantastic” day out, but it turned into a “very nasty surprise”.
The self-employed architect received a penalty notice from Transport for London (TfL), demanding he pay £ 2,000 after driving his motorhome five miles in and out of the capital’s low emission zone, which extends to the M25 and is different to the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).
Geoffrey made two five-mile journeys within the zone, to and from Abbey Wood campsite, for which he was charged £300 each time, but says that he was unaware the zone extended past the capital’s North and South Circular roads, and that he did not see any warning signs.
Only when he received the penalty notice through the mail a week later on April 18 did he realise his mistake, by which time the cost of each journey had been hiked up to £1,000 due to late payment for the charges he was not aware of.
However, the Caravan and Motorhome Club website listing for Abbey Wood Campsite warns campers that the site is within the LEZ.
TfL have since agreed a “discretionary refund” of £1,400.
Geoffrey said: “We haven’t been abroad in six years and this two grand fine would have completely scuppered our summer holidays.
“It came at the worst time because our heating and electricity bills have gone up and up, it’s crippling us left, right and centre.
“Frankly, I didn’t know where I was going to get the money to pay off the bill.”
While Geoffrey is not opposed to having a low emission zone in London, he does not remember spotting any signs on the road or at the Abbey Wood Caravan And Motorhome Club Campsite.
He added: “If I’ve got to pay £100 for me to be stupid and not realise I went into the zone , then I would have paid that,” he said.
“But £ 2,000 , that’s like a month’s salary – It’s a huge amount of money.
“We could have had a room in The Shard and instead we stayed in the motorhome for two nights.”
A TfL spokesperson said: “When people face significant penalty charges we offer support and suggest a manageable way of settling outstanding amounts.
“We have discussed this with Mr Eaton and he is happy with the outcome.
“The low emission zone (LEZ) has been in place since 2008 and is well established.
“All entry points to the zone are signed and there are advance warning signs ahead of these.
“The LEZ has been incredibly effective in discouraging people to travel in the capital in some of the heaviest polluting vehicles in circulation.
“We are now seeing 97 per cent of vehicles in the zone complying with the standards.”