Town reacts after council scraps controversial 24/7 bus lane and 'cash cow' camera in Northampton
"What we need now is an amnesty for all those with outstanding fines."
Councillors across Northampton say the decision to scrap the 24/7 bus lane and its 'cash cow' enforcement camera is a win for common sense.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (December 7), West Northamptonshire Council scrapped the 24/7 St James' Road bus lane and camera and reverted it back to its previous operating times of 7.30am to 9.30am each day.
Councillor Phil Larratt of WNC, who took over the scheme from the former Northamptonshire County Council, said the camera 'set motorists up to fail'.
Many motorists called the camera a 'cash cow' because it was positioned right outside Westbridge Garage, which is where drivers had been using the bus lane to undertake cars turning right into the petrol station for decades.
The enforcement camera made WNC more than £500,000 in 10 months.
Labour councillor Danielle Stone, of the Castle ward, is calling for an amnesty for all those with outstanding fines.
She said: "I agree with the decision taken. It's a victory for common sense and also for all the people who argued against the current arrangement.
"It's also a victory for all those who received fines and felt it was entrapment and successfully fought their corner. What we need now is an amnesty for all those with outstanding fines."
Town Mayor, Councillor Rufia Ashraf, of the St James' ward, said: "It was a money making scheme by the council (introduced by Northamptonshire County Council and later passed over to West Northamptonshire Council), who decided not to consult with people before they just went ahead with it.
"Do any of these decision makers live here? No.
"So many people have been caught out and have complained about the sudden decision to make the bus lane 24-hour. This decision is in favour of the people who spoke up."
The West Northamptonshire Labour Group (WNLG) said the the change is 'vindication' for all those who protested the current arrangement and a 'victory for common sense'.
A WNLG spokesman said: "It is wrong that taxpayer’s money was being used to entrap drivers this way, causing unnecessary financial and mental stress for those that had been fined."
Leader of the Labour Group Gareth Eales added: “I welcome this decision. It’s a shame it took so long for common sense to prevail. Labour hopes all those drivers who were unfairly fined get a formal apology and recompense.”
Conservative councillor Brian Sargent, of the Sixfields and St James ward, said 'good old common sense has prevailed'.
Councillor Sargent said: "All’s well that ends well. After consultation with the electorate voicing their wishes, we have come to a sensible decision of the bus lane problem at St James, which is as it was for early morning hours only.
"Good old common sense has prevailed at last for the residents of Northampton."
Conservative councillor Nick Sturges-Alex, of the Upton ward, said the news will come as 'great relief' to people who regularly use the road.
He said: “I’m sure I’m joining my residents in being really happy with the decisions to revert the bus lane to its previous operating times and to move the camera. It’s a sensible decision.
"Running a 24-hour bus lane when buses don’t run for 24 hours wasn’t the most sensible thing for the previous council to have done.
"The current position of the camera has been contentious, meaning you cannot make a common sense decision to go around traffic queuing to access the petrol station, so I’m glad that it will be moved.
"This news will come as a great relief to residents who regularly use this road.”