Nearly 10,000 drivers caught in controversial Northampton bus lane in just 81 days...that's one every 12 minutes and around 123 a day

Council that was accused of operating a "cash cow" generates a minimum of £290,000 in fines during first weeks of operation...but figure could be higher

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 1:02 pm
The bus lane camera (top right) is the only one along the 24-hour bus lane in St James' Road

Nearly 10,000 fines have been issued in just 81 days to motorists driving in a controversial 24-hour bus lane in Northampton.

The bus lane enforcement camera opposite Westbridge Garage, along St James' Road, has caught 9,679 people driving in the out of bounds zone.

The figures given to the Chronicle & Echo by West Northamptonshire Council show that one ticket is being issued to a driver every 12 minutes, which is around 123 per day.

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Each ticket given charges the motorist £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days, which means the council has made a minimum of £290,000 if every person fined has paid the smallest fee of £30.

To add to this, some motorists have said that the council has failed to deliver their fine notice letter, which has then resulted in an increase of the initial fee from £30 to £90 and threats of legal action.

The camera has been there since February 15 of this year and has been called by some residents, Conservative councillors and local business owners as a 'cash cow' for the Tory council.

A spokesperson from West Northamptonshire Council said: “Since the start date of the bus lane enforcement (February 15) 9,679 tickets have been issued for the St James' Road bus lane.”

The council then said it had recorded similar figures over in Wellingborough's Market Street bus lane.

The Northampton bus lane was initially introduced in August 2020 in a bid to meet the government's plans to become a more green friendly town and offer covid travel plans, which essentially means to encourage more people to ditch their cars and use their bicycles or the bus.

Many people have since complained about the camera and the bus lane.

The majority of the concerns raised by the public mention that buses do not run 24-hours in Northampton; the camera has been placed in an area where people have been using the bus lane to undertake cars for years; there should be no right turn into the garage as it now causes congestion and pollution.

Back in March 18, Jason Smithers, the councillor responsible for the camera and bus lane at the time, said: "Given the concerns about the location of the enforcement camera, we are looking to see whether there is a more suitable location."

However, when this newspaper followed up in April to ask whether the camera would be moving, the council updated their comment. It said: "We are continuing to monitor the situation and will be looking to see if there is a more suitable location or whether it should remain where it is."

The council also advertised on road signs from Halfords in Weedon Road to the railway station, a 1.3-mile stretch of road, that there were multiple cameras in the area, but it turned out there was only one.