'REFUND every motorist for driving in controversial 24/7 bus lane', says 'frustrated' Northampton councillor

The council made around £800,000 in 10 months from a controversial bus lane and enforcement camera
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A Northampton councillor is calling for EVERY motorist who was caught in a controversial 24/7 bus lane to be REFUNDED.

Councillor Julie Davenport, of the Far Cotton ward, wants West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) to refund around 18,000 motorists who were caught driving in the St James' Road bus lane.

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Around £800,000 was pocketed by the council through bus lane fines between February and December of last year before the scheme was scrapped following public outcry with the positioning of the camera.

The bus lane and enforcement camera in St James' RoadThe bus lane and enforcement camera in St James' Road
The bus lane and enforcement camera in St James' Road

The councillor also wants WNC to look into how the bus lane was brought into effect in the first place by taking it to a scrutiny committee.

However, councillor Davenport and councillor Enam Haque were reportedly outvoted when officials were deciding whether or not to scrutinise the decision.

Councillor Davenport said: "WNC need to look at all the lives they have affected. They have said the decision to introduce the bus lane was a bad decision and have now rectified it.

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"The council has said the decision was wrong and has now been change, but it keeps on taking people's money. If you knew it was wrong, the money should go back to residents.

"It's just so frustrating. I can't let this go because it's so unfair to residents. WNC has have not put it right, there are a lot of people struggling still because of it."

The council has since scrapped the bus lane and reverted it to its former operational hours of 7am to 9.30am every day. The camera itself has been switched off until a new location is decided.

Councillor Davenport has been liaising with one man in his 50s who has found himself in £7,000 debt from driving in the bus lane multiple times.

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The man ignored multiple letters in the post because he was told by friends they were a scam, he also does not read or speak English very well.

Councillor Davenport wants WNC to show her how the bus lane was brought into effect, because she believes it was done incorrectly.

"A lot of people have said it's a cash cow, those same people are supposed to trust the council," councillor Davenport said.

"This enforcement decision was made by the defunct Northamptonshire County Council. It is believed that due diligence was not carried out in a way that a public authority has a duty to do so.

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"I would like it to go to scrutiny so we can prove how it was introduced in the first place. Get all the decisions out, get the public in and then we can find out if it was brought in correctly. But WNC is not willing to scrutinise it.

"The more people are unwilling to do something, the more you start doubting them. Why would you not want to scrutinise it? It's had a huge representational damage on the council, and huge financial hardship on people, with some still paying for it.

"It feels like it's being swept under the carpet."


Before WNC scrapped the bus lane in December, it was agreed by cabinet that there would be no refunds.

At a cabinet meeting in December, council leader Jonathan Nunn even said he was concerned with how the bus lane was passed and set up by the former NCC.

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He said: "I share a little bit of concern too with how this came about, how it all suddenly appeared. We won't do these types of things from now on. Things will be spot on, if there was, indeed, any mistake with that [the bus lane introduction]."