Northampton motorist believes everyone who is issued a fine for undertaking in bus lane can successfully appeal it

"I guess Mr Shardlow has set a precedent in law and it seems the council has accepted that. And I guess the council is now just hoping people don't go to the TPT."

Friday, 15th October 2021, 9:04 am
Updated Friday, 15th October 2021, 1:13 pm

A Northampton motorist believes that everyone who is issued a fine for undertaking in a controversial bus lane in town can successfully appeal it.

Kevin Wall, from Rectory Farm, was caught undertaking in the Weedon Road/St James' Road bus lane by the enforcement camera outside Westbridge Garage on August 8.

The 67-year-old subsequently received a letter from West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) charging him £60 for the offence reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

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The bus lane in St James' Road

Mr Wall said: "I religiously keep out of the bus lane all the way from Sixfields but when I saw the car turning into Westbridge, I didn't think much about it and did a quick undertake.

"I was so incensed by it all. I didn't hold a bus up, it was not dangerous, there was nothing in the lane."

However, after reading the Chronicle & Echo's story about a man who successfully appealed his bus lane fine, Mr Wall thought he would try the exact same approach.

The case Mr Wall is referring to is that of Simon Shardlow, whose appeal was labelled "de minimis" by an adjudicator.

The adjudicator said de minimis means "the law does not concern itself with trifling matters", adding that "not every incursion into a bus lane amounts to a contravention".

So Mr Wall appealed his fine initially to WNC but was rejected. The pensioner then appealed it to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT). From there, WNC is then asked by the TPT if it wants to pursue the case.

Simon Shardlow's case was taken to an adjudicator and WNC lost. Mr Wall's case was taken to the TPT and WNC chose not to fight it this time.

Mr Wall said: "No adjudication was required because on Tuesday (October 12) I received a notification from the TPT informing me that the authority (WNC) has not contested my appeal and I am not liable to pay the penalty charge.

"The notification also states WNC's reasons for not contesting the case are 'although the Highway Code confirms that any incursion into a bus lane is an offence and WNC were correct to issue, we are aware the adjudicators are applying the de minimis rule in similar cases so on this occasion we agree to apply discretion'.

"It therefore appears that if the contravention was solely to undertake a vehicle causing an obstruction trying to turn right into Westbridge Motors, WNC will not contest an appeal to the TPT and the penalty charge will be cancelled.

"I guess Mr Shardlow has set a precedent in law and it seems the council has accepted that. And I guess the council is now just hoping people don't go to the TPT."

Asked how easy it was to appeal the case, Mr Wall said: "When I first got rejected by the council I got cold feet but then I thought, 'screw it, I committed the exact same offence as Mr Shardlow, if he can appeal his then why can't I?'.

"It was very straight forward. I just described what happened and wrote just a few sentences."

Mr Wall shared his thoughts on the "nonsensical" bus lane camera.

He said: "It just seems nonsensical to me. Call me cynical but of all the places to put a camera, they put it there.

"I think the local administration is diabolical and has been for many many years. They can change their name but nothing's changed. They are not fit for purpose."

Cllr Phil Larratt, from WNC, said: “Judgements over appeals are based on the personal and professional opinions of the adjudicator in question, and the nature of the appeal.

“In many instances they have ruled in favour of the council. Each case is based on specific circumstances and the evidence at hand. We follow a legal process based on the Highway Code, which is very clear on encroachment into a bus lane.

“Although this fine was not contested on this occasion, further PCN’s for similar offences may be contested based on individual circumstances of the offence."

The bus lane and its camera is currently up for review. Members of the public can click HERE to have their say on its future.

It was revealed on Wednesday (October 13) that WNC has made nearly half-a-million pounds from the bus lane since the camera was switched on in February.