As part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's commitment to making it easier and more enjoyable to walk around London, Transport for London (TfL) has successfully prosecuted Tooting business, JR Halal Butchers, for risking public safety by blocking the pavement.
On Thursday 3 November the business' Director, Zahid Chawdhary, pleaded not guilty to wilfully obstructing a highway; however was found guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court.
Last year JR Halal Butchers was issued a warning letter and two Fixed Penalty Notices after it was found the struts of a canopy placed over the shop were unlawfully obstructing the highway. The struts were not removed and in court earlier this month Mr Chawdhary was found guilty of highway obstruction and fined £400, ordered to pay a total of £1,410 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £40.
TfL takes the risk to public safety through freestanding advertising boards, tables, chairs and pillars extremely seriously as they could cause injury and hinder the free flow of pedestrian movement, particularly for older people and those with a visual or mobility impairment.
TfL's Operation Clearway involves officers visiting priority locations along the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN), engaging with local businesses about their responsibilities for keeping pavements safe and enforcing against those persistently obstructing streets.
Since the start of Operation Clearway in March 2015, 1,174 obstructions have been reported, 783 warning letters have been sent and 291 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued by TfL. JR Halal Butchers at 163 Upper Tooting Road, is the seventh business this year TfL has prosecuted for illegally obstructing the highway.
Siwan Hayward, TfL's Head of Transport Policing, said:
'We are committed to creating people friendly, safe streets for all to enjoy. To do this, pedestrians, and particularly those who are vulnerable, need to be able to confidently use pavements which are free from unnecessary obstructions.
'Through Operation Clearway we are clearing obstructions at priority locations along our road network. We are also working with boroughs, businesses, schools and organisations such as London TravelWatch, to help make our vision of London being an enjoyable place to walk, a success.'
Janet Cooke, Chief Executive at London TravelWatch, said:
'This is great news and we are proud of our part in getting this action underway. We want pedestrians everywhere to be able to walk more easily on the pavement. Pedestrians should also push for their local councils to take action to clear the pavements, as the law requires.'
Dave Kent, Engagement Officer at Guide Dogs, said:
'Street clutter is one of the biggest barriers the people we support face - 97 per cent of blind and partially sighted people face problems because of it.
'We are pleased to see TfL is working with businesses to encourage them to remove wilful obstructions, and when they fail to do so, taking prosecution action against them. We want to see a much clearer street environment for all people.'
TfL is committed to ensuring streets are kept free from clutter and has recently been strengthened following the installation of Mercury, an IT system which enables cases to be handled far more efficiently. As a result offenders will be brought to justice faster and enforcement officers will have more time to engage directly with businesses, ensuring London's streets are kept free from unlawful street furniture.
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