More Northampton motorists claim they have been wrongly threatened by council legal action with controversial bus lane fines

The council has denied any issues involving the fines from February

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 9:30 am
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 11:56 am

More Northampton motorists have contacted this newspaper claiming the council has wrongly threatened them with legal action after driving in a controversial bus lane.

A number of Chronicle & Echo readers have got in touch to say they were caught driving in the bus lane along the A4500 outside Westbridge Garage after a similar story was published last week.

They all accept they were in the wrong, but do not accept the fines issued by West Northamptonshire Council which introduced the bus lane camera back in February.

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The bus lane camera is positioned outside the turning into Westbridge Garage
The bus lane camera is positioned outside the turning into Westbridge Garage

The motorists have all shared carbon copy complaints saying that they were caught driving in the bus lane on February 20 and 21 of this year but they did not receive the first letter from the council, which allows them to pay a fine of £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Instead, the motorists received a second letter months later saying that they had not paid the first fine and must now cough up £98 or face legal action.

The council has denied that there has been any issue with the fine letters.

A West Northamptonshire Council spokesperson said: "We have not identified any issues with the processing and delivery of penalty charge notices on the dates mentioned."

However, many Chron readers have shared very similar stories saying they have been wrongly punished.

One motorist messaged The Chron saying: "I received an unpaid penalty notice on the weekend of June 20 for the using the bus lane. The amount they want is £98. I never received the first letter.

"Had I received the first letter I would have paid straight away. Now for me to even tell them that, I would need to have a solicitor to sign a form, which is £60 and absolutely ridiculous.

"Judging by the comments on your recent Facebook post there seems to be a lot of other drivers in the same position as me - all stating that they would pay the fine had they received the first letter.

"All of the contraventions seems to be dated February 20. It would appear that the council has a problem with their system. Now with this date it would have been under the old council before the new one came into force."

Another person emailed saying: "I have no idea how it's taken FOUR MONTHS for me to get this through.

"Any advice gratefully received as I'm frustrated - of course, the council also provided a phone number to contact them on which, being a Saturday, rings and rings and rings then hits voicemail with no obvious information as to their (WNC's) opening times."

After saying there was no issue with the letters, the West Northamptonshire Council spokesman continued: "It is important that anyone who wishes to contest a fine follows the instructions on the letter they receive, so that the individual circumstances can be investigated.

"In the case of those who have received the third and final statutory notice - called the Order for Recovery of unpaid penalty charge (PE2) - any appeals they wish to submit must be made to the Traffic Enforcement Centre and not West Northants Council. This must be done within 21 days."

The Chron revealed last month that people who broke the rules on March 22 were not issued a first letter, instead receiving a second letter threatening legal action.

The council previously blamed the mishap on 'issues with Royal Mail' back in March.

Instead of contacting each motorist from March 22, the council told them to get in touch if they wanted to appeal.

Between February and May nearly 10,000 drivers were caught in the bus lane in just 81 days...that's one every 12 minutes and around 123 a day.

Councillor Phil Larratt, from WNC, said last week the results of a review of the bus lane scheme were imminent.

He said: "We have instigated a review of the Westbridge / St James bus lane scheme and we will announce the outcome of this review shortly."