A family-run MOT test centre in Selhurst is losing dozens of long-time customers because of a new traffic restriction measure on the road.

They say automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras catch several people a day who enter their centre, charging them £65 a go.

The husband and wife owners say the cameras that enforce the new ‘Healthy School Street’ (HSS) measure on the Croydon road is killing their business.

Your Local Guardian: Brian and Wasantharani Fowler started the business 20 years ago Credit: Harrison Galliven/LDRSBrian and Wasantharani Fowler started the business 20 years ago Credit: Harrison Galliven/LDRS

HSS are a traffic calming measure that uses ANPR cameras to ensure school roads are free of traffic during busy pick up and drop off hours.

The centre, run by Brian and Wasantharani Fowler, has occupied the corner of Northcote Road and the Crescent in Selhurst for the past 20 years.

At the other end of the street lies The Crescent Primary School, for which the HSS was introduced in January 2023.

Soon after the cameras were installed, customers who left their car in the test centre for a MOT between 8-9:30 am and 2-4 pm started receiving £65 fines from Croydon Council.

Due to the nature of the business, where customers must book a time slot, those who come during the prescribed hours would always receive a fine.

Despite Brian and Wasantharani raising this issue over a year ago, they say no changes have been made and that their business is under threat as a result. Brian, 73, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “So far I have lost 19 customers because of this.

“They come in, they get fined and they ask me to pay the fine. Then they say sorry I can’t use you anymore.

"These are people that have been coming here year after year. That’s what this council is doing to us, it’s ruinous.

“If that camera was moved down to that lamppost, that would be it. End of problem. It’s getting to the point where we are going to have to close down, I just can’t keep pouring money into it. Then Croydon Council ask me to pay business rates every month. What for when I can’t even use the place.”

Wasantharani added: "We have put our money and time into this, we are always working hard. Because of the HSS, we have had to open on Saturdays, so people don’t get caught by the cameras.”

Another business owner, who is also affected by the placement of the HSS camera, told the LDRS about the history of the HSS in the area.

He told the LDRS: “It used to be that there were queues at the other end of the road before the new measure came in. The BRIT school is not so much of an issue because it’s for older kids. It’s mainly for the Crescent at the other end.

“It was hell, people would park on both sides of the road throughout the day. That’s all changed now, which is good for the kids of course. However, we had said over and over that the camera just needs to be placed there, that’s all we need. Just a sign that says school street, 50m ahead, business access not affected. That way were not caught by it.”

According to Brian and Wasantharani, part of the council’s confusion over the issue stems from the test centre’s location on the corner of Northcote Road and The Crescent.

The centre shares its facility with a motorbike shop, which has an entrance onto the busy Northcote Road.

Despite sharing the plot, the MOT centre is only able to use the entrance on The Crescent, which is caught by the cameras. Wasantharani told the LDRS: “I sent them an email saying that we have been building this business for the past 20 years and now they have just put a camera up and ruined it all for us.

“They answered saying our address was 127 Northcote Road, and that we are not caught by it on that entrance. On another email, the council said you cannot come in from the alternate Northcote Road entrance because if some of the cars are in front, it means you’re then queuing on a main road. Also, it’s on a zebra crossing.”

Standing outside the MOT test centre, the business owners also told the LDRS how they thought the signage telling motorists that they were coming up to a HSS was inadequate.

Brian said: “The sign that warns you of the upcoming HSS on Northcote Road is often obscured by nearby buildings, and all the while you’re also trying to focus on pedestrians on the zebra crossing.”

Brian added: “The main thing is that I can now only open four hours a day. It is stupid. This is crucifying my business.”

When approached for comment, a spokesperson from Corydon Council said: “School Streets have been introduced as experimental trials before any decisions are taken to make them permanent. This is for the purpose of collecting exactly this sort of feedback, and we have heard a lot of positive suggestions for improvements through our consultations.

“We have contacted the business and are taking their comments into account on how we can make the scheme work better.”