Northampton man criticises council after 24-hour bus lane fines might NOT have been delivered in the post

"The really sad thing is it has taken your newspaper's investigation to find this out. Joe Bloggs would probably just have to pay or suffer the consequences."

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:28 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 9:26 am

A Northampton man has criticised the council after his fine for driving in a 24-hour bus lane never came in the post - and the council has admitted he's right.

Peter Cottle of Harlestone Road, admits he was in the wrong when he used the 24-hour bus lane along the A4500, next to Westbridge Garage, to undertake a car on March 22.

However, the 50-year-old said he did not receive the initial fine notice through the post from the council, which offers motorists to pay a £60 fine reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. By missing this payment, the fine increased to £90 and later threats of legal action.

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Peter Cottle at the bus lane camera on the A4500 opposite Westbridge Garage

And now, after days of appeals, 'grief' and 'unnecessary' stress for Peter, West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has said there 'may have been a possible issue with Royal Mail' on March 25 when the letter was issued.

But instead of the council automatically offering everyone who was issued a fine in that time period a chance to pay the initial £30, WNC is only willing to accept appeals if those motorists approach them first.

A spokesperson from WNC said: “Our records show that the first notice was posted on March 25, however further investigation shows that there may have been a possible issue with Royal Mail that day. Therefore as a gesture of goodwill we have reset the discount on this PCN and he has seven days to pay the original amount.

“Legislation requires us to use first class mail for statutory notices so we follow this.

"Drivers who contact us to say they haven’t had the notice for this date will also have their situation reassessed with a view to resetting the discount if appropriate.”

Peter responded to the council's 'gesture of goodwill'.

He said: "In all honesty, they should forget the fine considering the grief I have had. I want the council to refund everybody from that day or at least email them to state they only owe £30."

In response to the council not taking it upon themselves to contact every driver who may be in the same situation as himself, Peter said: "That's not how it works. It is the council's issue and it needs to be transparent about it.

"The really sad thing is it has taken your newspaper's investigation to find this out. Joe Bloggs would probably just have to pay or suffer the consequences."

Peter talked through what happened the day he drove in the lane and how the process of receiving, or not receiving, the fine played out.

He said: "I went round the car instead of waiting behind it forever. I admit I went into the lane. I went into it because I didn't want a queue of traffic.

"I then got a letter saying I ignored the first letter and that I had to pay £90. I didn't receive the first one. I was fuming; that camera is a cash cow. They were saying I had ignored the process and I could go to court. It's disgusting."

Peter said he asked the council on the phone if they could reissue the first letter so he could start the process of paying again but was 'rudely' denied.

He said this same incident happened to a friend of his and felt compelled to contact this newspaper in a bid to see if other people have also been affected, which as it now turns out, seems to be true.

Peter is now also calling for every future bus lane fine to be sent as recorded post, with the extra cost of a 'couple of pounds' to be added to the fine as a way to stop 'mistakes' like this from happening again.