Petition launched calling for investigation into controversial 24/7 bus lane and camera in Northampton

"It is believed that due diligence was not carried out in a way that a public authority has a duty to do so."

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 8:53 am

A petition has been launched calling for an investigation into why and how a controversial bus lane and enforcement camera in Northampton ever came into force.

The petition is demanding that West Northamptonshire Council look into why the St James' Road bus lane was brought in by the now defunct Northamptonshire County Council.

Councillor Julie Davenport, the creator of the petition, believes that 'due diligence was not carried out in a way that a public authority has a duty to do so'.

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The bus lane in St James' Road

To view the petition, click here.

Councillor Davenport said: "The newly formed West Northamptonshire Council should scrutinise how the decision was made for the St James bus lane to become 24/7 enforcement.

"It is believed that due diligence was not carried out in a way that a public authority has a duty to do so. This is believed because it was a decision that had the potential to have huge financial implications, with the potential to cause severe hardship on the residents of Northamptonshire and beyond.

"This review of the decision should be carried out as soon as possible and published showing ‘a way forward’ and the ‘lessons learned’.

"In the meantime all enforcement action should cease until a decision is made as to the legality of this decision made."

A bus lane amendment report, dated February 12, shows that the final decision to implement the scheme was left to James Docherty, a network co-ordination manager for Northamptonshire County Council, who had delegated powers.

In the report, the former NCC conceded that many residents were against the scheme and that only two people were in favour of it.

Despite these objections, Mr Docherty said in the report: "Taking into account feedback from councillors and residents, I have decided to proceed with plans to proceed with the proposals to extend the operational period of the bus lanes."

This newspaper has since asked WNC:

Who made the decision to bring the bus lane in in the first place?

How many objections did you get in the first consultation (January 2020) about the bus lane camera?

Why did James Docherty overrule the objections?

Stuart Timmiss, from West Northamptonshire Council, replied saying: “Whilst the decision in regard to the bus enforcement was made by a previous local authority, councils are required to consider all of the information available in making any delegated decision.

“This includes taking into account the evidence of need, the results of any consultation and the political support for a project.

“In this case, there was evidence that thousands of cars were using the bus lane despite restrictions and, whilst there were objections, consultation results are intended to inform an approach, not dictate it. Finally there was, at the time of the decision, political support for this project.

“The delegated decision reflects the wider issues and context and the views of the council and is never decided by a single person.”

West Northamptonshire Council took over the scheme when the unitary authority was established in April.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, December 7 WNC reverted the bus lane back to its previous operating hours of 7.30am to 9.30am every day and will be relocating the enforcement camera to a new position along the St James' Road.

The bus lane made the councils more than £500,000 between February and December.