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BACK ON: John Dobson Street bus lane fines return

BACK ON: John Dobson Street bus lane fines return

The John Dobson Street bus lane in Newcastle city centre, Image: NCJ Media

Drivers have been warned that an infamous Newcastle bus lane camera which was once the most lucrative in the country will be turned back on next month.

More than 90,000 motorists were fined after being caught driving in a bus lane on the northbound side of John Dobson Street in 2016 and 2017, before the camera was shut off amid a barrage of complaints over inadequate warning signs.

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) finally ruled last year that Newcastle City Council was guilty of “fundamental negligence” by failing to properly inform drivers of the restrictions, prompting the local authority to offer to refund £2.5m worth of tickets.

City transport chiefs have now announced that motorists can expect to be hit with penalties once again from November 1.

The council has promised to install new warning signs “over and above that which is required under the national legal requirements” before the camera is turned back on.

Only around £300,000 worth of the available refunds has been claimed so far.

The council said it is still accepting requests for refunds, but that any surplus money remaining would be spent on improvements to public transport networks.

Coun Ged Bell, the authority’s cabinet member for transport, said: “As the city moves into recovery, with restrictions lifted and traffic levels increasing, now is the time to restart enforcement so we can ensure that we have a robust and reliable transport infrastructure in place.

“All great cities have great public transport networks and we will push on with our plans to prioritise bus services across the city. This is underpinned by our commitment to clean up our air, protect our health and the environment and provide good alternative transport choices to encourage people out of their cars.

“John Dobson Street is one of the busiest bus routes in the city centre and ensuring buses can operate efficiently there will benefit the thousands of passengers who use these services each week.

“I am confident that there is widespread public awareness of this bus lane and we will shortly be installing new signage on approaching routes to give additional warnings to drivers.

“We are now giving clear advanced notice that we will be reinstating enforcement of this bus lane restriction from November 1 and anyone not following the rules from that date will receive a penalty charge notice.”

A staggering 91,806 drivers were fined for driving in the bus lane between February 2016 and June 2017, when charges were suspended following complaints from dismayed drivers.

The John Dobson Street camera, which snapped motorists driving towards Newcastle Civic Centre, was named in 2017 as the most lucrative in England, with the council raking in almost £6,000 a day from its tickets.

In a long-awaited ruling issued in 2020, the TPT said the road signs informing drivers about the bus lane were “misleading and wrong” and accused the council of “neglect”.

While it did offer to refund drivers’ fines, the council refused to accept wrongdoing and complained that there were “gaping holes” in the verdict.

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


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