Couple's numberplate cloning fears

By Jonathan BarnesA COUPLE have fallen foul of the new congestion charge in London - even though they last visited the capital more than six months before it was introduced.

By Jonathan Barnes

A COUPLE have fallen foul of the new congestion charge in London - even though they last visited the capital more than six months before it was introduced.

Steve and Melanie Molyneaux said their Audi car was sitting in the drive of their Ipswich home at the time the Greater London Authority claims it was motoring across Westminster Bridge, more than 70 miles away.

They received a £40 fine for failing to pay the congestion charge - introduced in February to cut traffic - and were told it could rise to £120 if they refused to settle the bill.

The couple's car, which has a personalised numberplate, was supposedly clocked by traffic cameras at 12.45pm on May 7.

But Mrs Molyneaux, of Netley Close, said they had not been to London since she had scans at the capital's King's Hospital before giving birth to her son Rio, who is now 10-and-a-half months old.

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“I got home at 12.15pm last Wednesday and was supposed to be in the centre of London at 12.45pm, so it was good going,” she added.

“To be honest, I wouldn't even know how to drive into that part of London. But I've been told the car must have been there at that place and at that time, not sitting in our drive.”

Mrs Molyneaux said she had been to Stoke High School that day to deliver a spare inhaler to her daughter Naomi, 12, who had suffered an asthma attack, before returning home.

Her husband, who installs double glazing, had been at work, for which he uses a company van.

“We've tried phoning them, but they don't want to know, although we've been told we can buy the photo of 'our' car for £10,” said Mrs Molyneaux.

Now the couple fear someone might have cloned their numberplate and could run up further charges to them.

A spokesman for Transport For London, part of the Greater London Authority, said it was possible there had been a mistake.

“We have had a few of these cases coming out of the early teething troubles of the congestion charge,” he added.

“Most of the them it is because of an error in our people inputting the numberplates or when drivers pay the charges.

“If they can prove we have made a mistake, we will apologise and cancel the penalty charge notice, but they shouldn't just ignore the bill.

“If there is just one notice it does not sound like their numberplate has been cloned because we would expect multiple cases.”

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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