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CAUGHT OUT: Bus lane camera fines restarting in Newcastle

CAUGHT OUT: Bus lane camera fines restarting in Newcastle

New bus lane warning signs on John Dobson Street in Newcastle city centre, Image: LDRS

A notorious Newcastle bus lane camera that caught out more than 90,000 drivers will be turned back on next week for the first time in years.

Motorists have been reminded that they will be subject to fines again from next Monday, November 1, if they are seen driving in the northbound bus lane on John Dobson Street, in the city centre.

Newcastle City Council is reinstating the penalties after a long-running scandal that saw the local authority accused of “fundamental negligence” over a failure to properly warn drivers of the bus gate restriction when it came into force.

The camera was named as the most prolific in England, at one point raking in almost £6,000 a day in revenue for the council.

A massive 91,806 motorists were hit with fines of up to £90 for driving in the bus lane between February 2016 and June 2017, before charges were suspended following complaints over a lack of adequate signage.

Following a long-awaited Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) verdict last year which concluded that the council was at fault, city transport chiefs offered to refund up to £2.5m worth of fines – of which only around £300,000 has been claimed back so far.

New signs and road markings to warn drivers of the restricted bus lane, opposite Newcastle Civic Centre, have now been installed ahead of the camera being reinstated on Monday.

Coun Ged Bell, cabinet member for development, transport and neighbourhoods at Newcastle City Council, said: “We’ve given fair and ample warning that enforcement action will recommence on November 1 on this key route for buses.

“Buses held up in the city centre has a real impact on our neighbourhoods, causing delays to timetables, and frustration for our residents.

“It is really important that our public transport system operates well to encourage more people on to public transport and out of their cars as this will help reduce carbon emissions and improve our air quality, making the city a healthier and more pleasant place for everyone.”

Last year’s TPT ruling stated that the road signs informing drivers about the bus lane were “misleading and wrong” and accused the council of “neglect”.

But while it did offer refunds, the council has refused to accept wrongdoing and complained that there were “gaping holes” in the verdict.

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


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