Northampton pensioner's bus lane 'nightmare' as council fines her 10 times and bailiffs threaten to take action

The woman - who has leukemia and lives in assisted living accommodation - says all 10 fine letters were sent to a wrong address and therefore she was unaware of her offences

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 9:59 am
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 10:08 am
Joy Dawson has been fined a whopping 10 times by West Northamptonshire Council for driving in the St James' Road bus lane outside Westbridge Garage

A 71-year-old Northampton woman with leukemia says she is currently living a 'nightmare' as bailiffs threaten action in eight days over 10 unpaid bus lane fines.

Joy Dawson, who lives in assisted living accommodation in Upton, which is part-funded by the West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), has received 10 fines for driving in the St James' Road bus lane after being caught by the enforcement camera opposite Westbridge Garage.

The pensioner says she was initially unaware the bus lane was converted into a 24/7 operation and first drove in it on March 16, and continued to do so periodically until October, which is when she finally found out she had been breaking the rules.

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Joy also says she did not receive any bus lane fine letters because they were wrongly sent to an address in St Crispin's all 10 times, which meant she was never aware she was breaking the rules, and so the penalties went unpaid.

Joy said: "I only found out because the bailiff company has the facilities to trace people's addresses. The bailiffs sent a letter to my home threatening enforcement action on Thursday, October 14. I rang the council to see what was going on and the woman said I had 10 fines. The council sent those letters to an address I've never lived at.

"I don't understand any of it. I am beside myself worrying about it all. It's running into the thousands of pounds and a warrant has been issued against me, which means all these tickets are going to become County Court Judgements.

"It will absolutely put me out on the street. I'm fighting this on my own. I'll have to pay £195 per hour while the bailiffs are here, too. It's getting worse and worse.

"It's like a nightmare I can't wake up from. It's gone right through me from the moment I opened the letters. I have not done anything wrong. If I get a ticket I am the first person to pay for it.

"I didn't know I committed an offence. I have been driving in that bus lane for years and years. Then, all of a sudden, they put a camera up because the council has got nothing else better to do."

Joy is now in the process of appealing the fines to the Traffic Enforcement Centre but she only has until October 28 before the bailiffs come and demand payment.

She said: "The council is the only one which can stop this now."

Joy would like the council to allow her to pay the initial fine - which would be £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days - and leave the matter there as she is unable to pay the thousands she owes.

A WNC spokesman said: “As with any motorist in her position, we advised Ms Dawson to urgently contact the Traffic Enforcement Centre to apply to file a Statutory Declaration Out of Time.

"She must also make urgent contact with the Motability and the DVLA, which as recently as last month had an incorrect address on their records.

"All Penalty Charge Notices follow a clear statutory process which must be followed, so it is important motorists respond to correspondence, or instructions to given them over the phone, as promptly as possible.”

Joy claims she correctly changed her address with the DVLA. She is also not the logbook owner on her rented vehicle, which is the responsibility of disabled vehicle leasing company Motability.

The council has made around half-a-million pounds since first introducing the camera back in February 15 of this year.The bus lane and its controversial enforcement camera is up for review. Members of the public can tell the council what they want to happen to the scheme here.