Ten months, 35,000 fines and more than half-a-million-pounds later council SCRAPS 'cash cow' 24/7 Northampton bus lane and camera
This newspaper has reported extensively on the misery the bus lane and its enforcement camera has had on motorists in Northampton - and now the council have listened
A controversial 24-hour bus lane and its camera in Northampton that 'set people up to fail' will be scrapped after making the council more than half-a-million pounds over 10 months.
At a cabinet meeting last night (Tuesday), West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) approved the decision to revert the Weedon Road and St James' Road bus lane back to its previous operating hours of 7.30am to 9.30am each day.
The bus lane camera is also set to be moved from its contentious position opposite Westbridge Garage. A new location is yet to be confirmed.
This comes after Chronicle and Echo extensively covered this issue on behalf of unhappy motorists throughout the year.
However, according to council papers the process to change the times to 7.30am to 9.30am will take 'approximately 8 weeks to complete'.
The council has been asked for an exact date of when the new times will come into effect.
The bus lane camera was brought in in by the former Northamptonshire County Council and the now leader of North Northamptonshire Council Jason Smithers back in February.
However, WNC councillor and cabinet member Phil Larratt became responsible for the scheme when the new council formed in April.
Speaking at cabinet last night, councillor Larratt said: "I think bus lanes do have a role to play in making public transport easier and quicker for our residents...but we must find the right balance for all road users.
"Unfortunately, the location of the camera in this particular place created public outcry and we have had to put that right.
"We will be looking at other areas where we can take enforcement action, which is reasonable and measured."
Councillor Julie Davenport criticised WNC at the meeting, saying the local authority was 'relying on residents to break the rules to fund the new council' through bus lane fines.
In response to councillor Davenport, councillor Larratt said: "Please be assured, we do not rely on people breaking the law in order to balance the books of this council. There is a financial implication but it's not something we have not been able to overcome.
"This one was a bit different because it set people up to fail and that will never happen again on my watch, I can tell you that much."
Council leader Jonathan Nunn said he was also concerned with how the bus lane was passed and set up by the former NCC and Jason Smithers.
"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]," councillor Nunn said.
This newspaper has gone to WNC for answers about who approved the bus lane camera in the first place and how many objections were made against the scheme initially and why they were possibly ignored.
Bus lane issues
Some of the main contentions reported to the Chron were:
• Buses in the town do not run 24 hours a day
• The camera was placed in a position where motorists have, for decades, been using the bus lane to undertake traffic turning into Westbridge Garage
• The bus lane caused more traffic than it reduced
• There is only one camera along the 1.5 mile stretch of road, and that is right outside Westbridge Garage
A handful of the stories the Chron has covered include:
• Northampton motorist WINS appeal against council over bus lane fine after going into lane to avoid van turning right into garage• Another driver steps forward claiming he did NOT receive a Northampton bus lane fine from the council...and now there are threats of legal action• Northampton man criticises council after 24-hour bus lane fines might NOT have been delivered in the post• Northampton man's life 'ruined' after bus lane fine snowballs into £7,000 debt and car seizure• Northampton mother-of-two slams 'sneaky' council over bus lane fine as bailiffs threaten to take action• All bus lane tickets will be CANCELLED upon appeal after broken down vehicle forces drivers to use lane, says council