An ordinary-looking yellow-box junction in front of the world-famous Ritz Hotel has been revealed as a huge cash cow for motoring fines.
Covering three lanes of traffic in Piccadilly’s junction with Berkeley Street, it has single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Westminster Council in recent years.
And sitting about 600 yards from Piccadilly Circus, it is the only yellow-box junction in the whole borough where fines, or Penalty Charge Notices, are handed out.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request, the council council said the junction raised £902,980 from 6,946 PCNs in 2016/17 ― the equivalent of £2,473 every day.
However the number of fines issued at the junction ― where drivers are penalised for stopping in the yellow grid ― has been falling each year.
In 2017/18, there were 6,416 PCNs issued to motorists at the junction, raising £834,080.
Then in 2018/19, it fell to 4,595 fines, providing £597,350 for the council’s coffers.
The council argues that the junction often suffers from “inconsiderate drivers” who block the turning, and that the yellow-box has helped ease congestion.
Last month it was revealed that Westminster Council made £16.5 million from 313,000 PCNs in the 2018 calendar year, earning more than every local authority up and down the country.
Bad parking, using bus lanes, stopping in yellow-box junctions, and turning right and no-turn junctions, are all common offences that millions of motorists caught out by councils’ security cameras.
The council also named Oxendon Street, a side road adjacent to the Prince of Wales Theatre, as the location where more PCNs (5,030) were issued than anywhere else in the borough in 2018/19.
Many London councils justify the huge figures by using the cash for road maintenance. Unlike councils in the rest of England, they do not receive Government funding to spend on fixing the capital’s highways – 95 per cent of which are looked after by London’s 32 councils.
Last month, a report by the London Councils group said: “In 2018/19 alone, London authorities spent £96.8 million on carriageways, £83.6 million on structures, £76.3 million on footways, and £67.3 million on lighting.”
Westminster council deputy leader Tim Mitchell, said: “Inconsiderate drivers blocking this junction cause congestion which disrupts the lives of people travelilng through the city.
“Since we started enforcement action in the area we have seen a significant reduction in those breaking the rules – easing congestion on Piccadilly, one of London’s busiest roads.
“The camera will be moved to another location when the number of driving offences on the junction falls to an acceptable level.
“With over a million daily visitors and many of the country’s biggest attractions it would be a surprise if Westminster wasn’t at the top of the list for PCNs. All of the money we raise through parking is reinvested in transport schemes including green schemes like our schools clean air fund and our diesel surcharge – which has led to a 16 per cent reduction in older diesel vehicles entering the city.”