If a controversial 24/7 bus lane in Northampton is scrapped, will the council refund everyone who was fined?

The council could approve plans to revert the St James' Road bus lane back to its previous operating hours, and also move the enforcement camera away from Westbridge Garage

By Logan MacLeod
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 2:38 pm

If a controversial bus lane in Northampton goes back to its previous operating hours, will the council refund everyone who drove in it since February?

A cabinet meeting is taking place tonight (Tuesday) at The Guildhall where West Northamptonshire Council could revert St James' Road bus lane's hours back to 7.30am to 9.30am from the current 24/7 period in place.

The council highlighted one of the 'key risks' of the change could be that it comes 'under pressure' from motorists looking for their penalty charge notices to be appealed and refunded.

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The bus lane in St James' Road could be changed back to its previous operating hours of 7.30am to 9.30am

More than 10,000 PCNs have been issued to drivers breaking the rules, with the council pocketing at least £500,000 in nine months between February and November. Each PCN is £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Cabinet papers say: "There is also a risk...that the council comes under pressure to refund PCN payments that have already been made.

"It is clear that the purpose of the camera and enforcement were reasonable and that the scale of infringement required action.

"The legal position on this is clear, the PCNs were validly issued in line with the traffic regulation order in place at the time.

"When a recipient receives a PCN and pays it they have accepted liability for the offence as described and the matter is closed.

"There is no option to reopen this matter and a refund obtained.

"Any PCNs that have been issued prior to the ceasing of enforcement...will be processed and the normal procedures will be followed."

The council also said another key risk of not making changes is that it could damage its public reputation.

"If no changes are made, then complaints by residents and subsequent media interest may continue," cabinet documents say.

The camera is positioned so that it catches people driving in the stretch of bus lane opposite Westbridge Garage.

One man actually appealed his ticket and won against the council and subsequently set a precedent for many others in the same position.

Simon Shardlow, from Long Buckby, was fined £30 back in April for using the St James' Road bus lane to undertake a van turning right into Westbridge Garage.

The 65-year-old initially paid the £30 fine but later appealed after weeks of research which helped him form his defence.

Mr Shardlow argued to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) that he used the bus lane to undertake a van to avoid an obstruction and prevent a build of cars behind him.

On Friday, July 9, Mr Shardlow received a response from the TPT adjudicator who awarded the win to the motorist and the loss to WNC.

The adjudicator gave their reasons behind the decision by quoting a similar case to Mr Shardlow's, saying that the incident was 'trivial and should be disregarded.'

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