Fines for motorists caught out by the Surbiton Crescent traffic restrictions will not be repaid, despite the council admitting they were “unfair”.

Kingston Council’s new Liberal Democrat administration will present their emergency budget proposals next week, but they will say they cannot afford to give motorists back their money.  

The Surbiton Crescent restrictions were put in place as part of the council’s £30 million “mini-Holland” scheme, Go Cycle.

They are listed as having brought in £3.6 million in fines, and while in opposition the Lib Dems repeatedly asked for the money to be paid back.

The budget proposals state: “Liberal Democrats have said all along that the signs were unclear, so it was unfair to penalise motorists until clearer signage was displayed, despite the technical legality of the signage.

“If Liberal Democrat opposition councillors had been listened to at the start then there would have been a minimal cost to the council to cancel the initial penalty charge notices.

“However, a year and half later and this money has been spent by the previous administration.”

It goes on to argue that the “large” savings required to balance the books mean the administration “cannot see how the council can afford” to refund the fines.

At the June 28 meeting of the Finance and Contracts Committee, Cllr Green said the Surbiton Crescent fines would be “in the mix” of the emergency budget, but that she “didn’t know” whether they would be paid back.

The emergency budget has been drawn up because the Lib Dems do not think savings planned by the Conservatives for the year’s budget can be delivered.

By the time the Lib Dems took over in May, a little over a month into the financial year, £11.6 million of the £22.2 million of required savings were already rated “red” or “amber”, meaning they are undeliverable or only partly deliverable.

That, according to the council, leaves no room for manoeuvre on the Surbiton Crescent fines; they will not be returned to motorists.