Requests made to revert controversial 24-hour bus lane in Northampton back to previous operating times

West Northamptonshire Council's cabinet member for transport said a decision is to be made in 'due course'

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 5:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th July 2021, 1:28 am

Requests have been made to revert a controversial 24-hour bus lane in Northampton back to its previous operating hours.

West Northamptonshire Council s cabinet member for transport, Phil Larratt, has asked officers to change the 24-hour bus lane in Weedon Road and St James Road back to its previous peak hours operating period.

Before the bus lane became a 24-hour zone in August 2020, the previous bus lane hours were from Monday to Saturday between 7am and 9am

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The 24-hour bus lane could be changed back to its previous operating times
The 24-hour bus lane could be changed back to its previous operating times

Councillor Larratt said in a recently published report: "I have asked officers to revert the St James / Westbridge Bus Lane to its previous operating hours and that the controversial camera opposite the BP garage only be operational during the hours the bus lane is in force.

"Officers are currently reviewing matters with regard to my request and there will be a paper to inform a formal decision in due course."

In this recent comment, Councillor Larratt has not mentioned moving the camera. However, he told this newspaper on June 25 that both the camera's location and the operating hours were 'being taken into account in the review process'.

The bus lane has been labelled a 'cash cow' by many in the town including members of West Northamptonshire Council's own Conservative party members.

The controversy surrounds the camera's location opposite Westbridge Garage, which is a spot motorists have been using for years to undertake cars turning right into the garage.

So far, the council has made a minimum of around £400,000 since the bus lane camera went live on February 15. This is if all 13,000 who have been fined have paid the minimum penalty of £30.One man recently won his appeal against the council's bus lane fine, with the adjudicator saying the issue was 'trivial and should be disregarded'.

The bus lane was brought in to help meet the council's 'Covid travel plans', which was an attempt at getting more people on buses, cycling into town and reducing pollution.

However, some have argued the scheme has done the opposite, with more traffic building up in the area as motorists have to wait behind cars turning right into Westbridge Garage.

The camera and bus lane scheme was introduced by the former Northampton County Councillor Jason Smithers, who now sits on North Northamptonshire Council and still represents the Higham Ferrers ward, which is 25 minutes away from the bus lane.

There is also only one bus lane camera along the stretch of road from Halfords to the railway station despite the council's signs saying there are more than one.