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Pensioner slapped with £800 fine for ‘getting lost in London’ during rush hour

3 min read

A pensioner who got lost trying to navigate his way out of London during rush hour was horrified to receive more than £800 in fines.

Roger Watts, from Norwich, was driving to Dorset to pick up a caravan when his sat nav took him through the capital, which he believes was by mistake.

However the 82-year-old ended up getting lost and spent hours trying to get out of the Big Smoke – and forgot that the newly-extended Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would mean hefty charges would be applied to his 2009 plate Seat Altea.

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"I haven't been in London since the 70s, so when I got lost, I just didn't have the experience to get out," he said. "I ended up going through ULEZ zones."

The controversial scheme was introduced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to reduce air pollution and was expanded to cover all London boroughs on August 29 of this year.

In a video posted to social media, Khan said: "Air pollution and the climate crisis are the most serious public health and environmental threats we face.

"Expanding ULEZ was a difficult decision for me to take, but it was the right one."

Drivers with older cars face a £12.50-a-day charge, and failure to pay can see motorists slapped with a fine of £180.

But Mr Watts, who ended up taking nine hours to complete what should have been a four-hour journey, said his fine was increased to £810 by Transport for London (TfL) as he didn't pay the fee during the grace period.

He also claimed the eventful journey saw him use up some £300 of fuel – and now he is concerned about his ability to pay.

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Mr Watts added: "I've been told the fines will keep going up, so it's not finished yet. The only thing I can do is try and get some help, so I've been to Citizen's Advice who have given me some contact details for a legal team.

"It's very stressful as I can't raise the sort of cash needed to pay and it's taking up so much of my time trying to sort this.

"However, I'm going to fight it to the end – these big companies assume no one can touch them – but they'll have to take this all the way."

TfL's director of strategy and policy Christina Calderato said: "The ULEZ is vital in tackling the triple threats of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and will ensure millions more people can breathe cleaner air.

"Thousands die prematurely each year as a result of toxic pollution and it causes children to grow up with stunted lungs and increases the risk of dementia in older people.

"Those outside the London boundary will also benefit, with drivers outside of the capital shifting to cleaner vehicles that meet the standards. This includes people living and working near Heathrow, which has some of the capital's most toxic air."

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