‘I’ve got my first ever motoring fine aged 82 – and I’m fuming’

Town Hall says people unhappy with tickets should go through appeals process

Friday, 18th March — By Tom Foot

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Janet Langdon and her car

ONE of Camden’s most experienced motorists has been left “fuming” after being fined for her first driving offence in 65 years on the roads.

Janet Langdon, who got her provisional driving licence on March 5 1957, was caught out by one of the council’s healthy school streets restrictions in Frognal, Hampstead.

The 82-year-old, a founder of the Fairfax Place Residents Association in South Hampstead, said: “I was coming home from Highgate down Frognal by University College School. It was an absolute shambles to the nth degree.

“There was a double-decker bus, cars parked all over the place with parents picking up, children running about. Then you have to cross Arkwright Road.

“That is a difficult crossing at any time of the day or night.

“I wrote to them and they sent me a photo of the sign. Now I have been back there three times and looked at it. How am I meant to read that?

“There is no way that if you are crossing and driving safely that you can see it. They told me I could have looked it up on the internet. I am fuming.”

Recalling her first driving test, she said: “It was a difficult time because of Suez and all the driving test people were organising petrol rations. Because of this you didn’t have to learn to drive with anyone, even as a complete beginner.

“Not many people have had a licence since 1957. I remember my father took me out on my 17th birthday. I went with white socks on. Little girls had white socks in those days. Since then I have had one or two parking tickets but nothing like this.”

Ms Langdon revealed a fascinating story about her father, Geoffrey Langdon, who owned a factory in Russia before the First World War.

She said: “My father did things for the Intelligence Corp when it first started. He was a chief interrogator of German spies for the Corp. I know a lot about the intelligence services and I am pretty pissed off about how little they seem to know about what is going on now.

“My father would be horrified by what is going on in Ukraine. Everyone is horrified.”

An army in Manchester was recently named after Major Langdon, who was instrumental in rescuing thousands of Jewish children from Nazi Germany.

Born in a flat opposite John Lewis in  Oxford Street, Ms Langdon has had a colourful life and is perhaps best known for being a spokesperson for the trade association for the water industry during the last major drought.

“The drought was in August when there are no real news stories,” she said. “I was on the Today programme practically every day. I loved it when all the journalists appeared outside my front door here. So taking on Camden is quite simple. I don’t care two hoots about the money.”

Ms Langdon said a “kind woman officer” at the Town Hall had reduced her fine of £130 to £65 but that if the council refunded the money she would give it to Ukraine.

The Healthy School Street Zone restricts the area around five schools, in close proximity to each other, to all vehicles except for residents’ and pure electric vehicles between 8-9am and between 3-4.15pm on Monday to Friday.

A Camden Council spokesperson said clear signage was in place, adding “Healthy School Street schemes are in place to make travelling to and from school safer for children and their families, whilst addressing issues such as road danger, congestion and poor air quality.

“We encourage anyone who feels they have unjustly received a parking fine to follow our appeals process via ­camden.gov.uk/challenge-a-pcn.”


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