Motorists have accused a council of 'entrapment' after being stung with £2.6 million in fines for unwittingly driving through a road closure on the school run.
Kingston Council has issued more than 40,000 since it introduced the road closure outside Surbiton High School in November – prompting drivers, many of whom are parents, to complain about the 'unclear' new traffic system.
A stretch of Surbiton Crescent outside the school has been closed to most traffic, with only buses and bikes allowed to travel south along the road. Residents who live on the right-hand side of the street and those who use the school's sixth form car park must register their number plates for access from the north.
However, many have claimed the signage for the road closure, which was introduced in a bid to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety, is unclear.
Parent Claire Geraghty, 48, who has two daughters at the £5,000-a-term independent school, told the Daily Mail: "I'm quite an observant and conscious driver and I got two tickets in one week.
"I'd gone through it because there hadn't been a sign, or if there was it was pretty subtle. Absolutely everyone I know has had tickets. One of my friends had four.
Another parent, Amanda Maxwell, 55, told the Mail that she was fined after dropping her daughter off one morning. She was initially set to appeal the ticket, but decided against it after the council sent her a letter.
"The wording was just so threatening," she explained. "I got caught in both directions. So did my neighbours, so did my best friend and so did my daughter. It's absolutely renowned for the number of people it caught. I'm so angry about it because it was so deceptive.
"After there were a lot of complaints they put up more signposting, so that was tantamount recognition that it wasn't clearly signposted. Every time I see that road it makes me furious."
Principal Ann Haydon also told the newspaper that a number of her staff had also been stung with fines.
However, Kingston Council has hit back at claims the closure is a money making scheme.
A spokesperson said: "The signage meets the requirements set out by the Department for Transport.
"In addition, the council has installed a number of non-mandatory signs to give road users advanced warning on their approach to the closure. Despite sending out 5,500 warning notices prior to giving out fines, writing to residents and the school in the area of the closure, we have had a high number of road users who have breached the restrictions."