Northampton man's life 'ruined' after bus lane fine snowballs into £7,000 debt and car seizure

"I have taken everything to the council and they said 'get a solicitor'. But he can't afford that. He can barely afford to eat."

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:38 am

A Northampton man owes £7,000 to bailiffs and has had his car taken away after not paying bus lane fines because 'he thought they were a scam'.

The man, who lives in Far Cotton and wants to remain anonymous, turned to Independent councillor Julie Davenport for help last month (September) when he realised the situation was serious.

The middle-aged man was caught driving in the controversial St James' Road bus lane just outside Westbridge Garage earlier this year.

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The bus lane was introduced in August last year and its camera outside Westbridge Garage went live on February 15 this year

When his fines came in the post, as well as believing they were a scam he also struggles to read English, which compounded the issue, councillor Davenport said.

Many people have criticised the bus lane camera as being a 'cash cow' for West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) due to its positioning, which is where drivers have been undertaking cars turning right into the garage for decades.

Councillor Davenport explained the man's 'desperate' situation.

She said: "A friend of the man approached me because he was desperate. He had no money and his car had been taken by enforcement officers due to bus lane fines.

"I took him food for his family and gave money for gas and electricity from our Far Cotton and Delapre Community Support Group.

"He showed me a huge wad of bus lane fixed penalty notices - £7,000-plus in all. I lost count because there are so many.

"He kept getting them [in the post] and people said it must be a scam. He didn’t pay them. He ignored the fines because of it. It wasn’t until his car was taken away by enforcement that he realised how serious a situation he was in.

"I think it's really sad that he has got into this position and there is no way for him to get out of it because he can't afford it.

"There is no legal aid and there does not appear to be any help for him.

"I have taken everything to the council and they said 'get a solicitor'. But he can't afford that. He can barely afford to eat.

"It's just a dire situation. It's ruining his life. He can't sleep. He's really stressed about it all.

"He's frightened the enforcement officer will come back again."

Councillor Davenport now plans on writing to the CEO of the council after exhausting all other avenues to help the man.

She said: "I took the parking enforcements to a cabinet member at the council but was told he needed a solicitor.

"I’ve tried to get hold of Citizens Advice but that has been in vain, just holding on the line and then getting cut off - everyone is so busy after Covid.

"How is he supposed to deal with these? Community law can’t help. He lost his job during Covid, and has no furlough money.

"I cannot find help for him. There will be more enforcement no doubt.

"They gave an officer delegated responsibility for bus lanes and it’s ruined this man's life and no one can help.

"I am going to write to the CEO of the council because I am tired of people not answering me."

A West Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: “We advise anyone who receives a PCN to follow the instructions on the notice if they wish to appeal. For every PCN there are three notices issued before the case is escalated. There is more information on the Council’s website - www.westnorthants.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport.”

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