Transport for London's aim of completing coverage of its ULEZ cameras on approach roads in and around High Barnet is being repeatedly thwarted by protestors who are still angered by the introduction of the new anti-pollution vehicle charge.
A new camera installed on Hadley Green Road – in front of the historic Wilbraham’s almshouses -- lasted only five days before it was knocked over.
An angle grinder appeared to have been used to cut through the base of the camera pole, which was then pushed over, smashing the camera into pieces.
Another camera at the start of Rowley Lane – on the Arkley-Borehamwood boundary – has been vandalised repeatedly. For the last few weeks, the pole has been left lying forlornly on the grass verge.
Although High Barnet has not seen anything like the amount of damage done to ULEZ cameras in south London boroughs such as Bromley, TfL’s renewed effort to complete coverage around High Barnet has provoked anger especially among road users who had devised circuitous routes to avoid the charge.
When the Ultra Low Emission Zone was extended to the outer London boroughs at the end of August, TfL admitted that it still had work to do complete the installation of all the planned cameras – an omission which has temporarily benefited drivers of older vehicles, but which TfL is now trying to rectify.
A complicating factor for TfL is that four roads on the outskirts of High Barnet have all been exempted from ULEZ and are charge free: the Great North Road (A1000) from the St Albans Road junction on the High Street to Hadley Highstone; St Albans Road from the junction with High Street to the Barnet boundary; Barnet Road from Stirling Corner to The Arkley public house; and Galley Lane.
In the three and a half months that have elapsed since the introduction of ULEZ, drivers of non-compliant vans and cars have passed on tips to one another about how to dodge the charge by following routes in and around High Barnet that avoid the cameras, but which succeed in connecting to the charge-free main roads such as the Great North Road.
A prime example was Drury Road, at Hadley Highstone, which takes vehicles from the from the A1000 through Monken Hadley and on towards New Barnet.
This was marked with ULEZ warning sign, and occasionally an enforcement van made an appearance, but there was no camera – until TFL installed a pole and camera at the junction of Drury Road and Hadley Green Road, which was then found lying by the side of the road five days later.
TfL has been more fortunate in applying the charge to another residential road leading off Hadley Green – a camera has now been erected at the top of East View. Given its proximity to numerous properties – and possible CCTV cameras – it has remained intact.
This ULEZ camera and its junction box were originally intended to have been sited near the newly restored Hadley Green drinking fountain, but TfL switched the location in view of objections.
Judging by the length of time the vandalised camera pole has been left lying on the grass verge at the top of Rowley Lane (near the A1 flyover to Boreham Wood), TfL seems to have abandoned, at least for the time being, trying to install a replacement.
Even before the ULEZ charge took effect, the cabinet for the Rowley Lane camera was overturned; and then the camera lenses were blocked repeatedly with foam; and finally, it was felled in similar circumstances to the camera pole on Hadley Green – being sawn through at the base and then pushed over.
Given the breakdown in relations over ULEZ between TfL and Hertfordshire County Council, there are still no advance warning signs of the charge on roads approaching High Barnet.
Visiting motorists often find themselves entering the zone before it is too late – although there are charge free corridors available such as the Great North Road, St Albans Road, and Barnet Road into which they can turn to escape having to pay.
In the months since the introduction of ULEZ, specialist shops in Barnet High Street – such as Wanders shoe shop, Boutique and Bakes and the Hopscotch traditional sweet shop -- all report that the charge is deterring some regular customers who used to travel in from nearby towns such as Potters Bar and Borehamwood.