Northampton council pockets nearly HALF-A-MILLION POUNDS in just EIGHT months from controversial bus lane camera
The council is on target to earn around £750,000 in a year if the trend continues - an online survey is now OPEN to the public to help decide the bus lane and camera's future
The council has pocketed just under half-a-million pounds from motorists in just eight months from a controversial bus lane camera in Northampton.
This newspaper asked West Northamptonshire Council for its latest figures regarding the Weedon Road/St James' Road bus lane and its camera.
The council revealed that nearly 17,800 fines have been issued since the bus lane camera was switched on back in February 15.
That equates to 74 a day or one every 20 minutes over an eight-month period (around 239 days).
Fines start at £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. They then increase to £90, and later to legal action.
A financial breakdown of the half-a-million pounds the council has pocketed shows that, on average, WNC makes around £62,000 a month, £2,000 a day, £84 an hour, or £1.50 a minute via the camera.
The council is on target to earn around £750,000 in a year if the trend continues.
WNC has previously said the money is invested back into "council services".
Future of the bus lane
Residents can now have their say on the future of the bus lane and its camera.
WNC opened a survey last week where all residents of the town can answer three simple questions as to what they want to happen with the lane.
The four options available on the survey are:
• Reduce the enforcement hours to a minimum period from 7.30am to 9.30am
• Reduce the enforcement hours to 7am to 7pm
• Leave the enforcement hours as they currently operate.
Many motorists speaking to the Chron have labelled the camera, situated just outside Westbridge Garage, as a "scam" and a "cash cow".Drivers have used the bus lane for decades to undertake traffic turning right into the garage but now must wait, in turn creating a build up of single-file traffic throughout the day.
Some motorists in the town have recently had bailiffs knocking at their door threatening to seize or clamp their car.
One man says his life is "ruined" as he now owes £7,000 after an accumulation of unpaid fines.
Other controversies include many motorists not receiving their first fine letter through the post, leading to an unexpected second fine letter or threats of bailiff action.
Another man says he actually paid his fine but still had bailiffs at his door threatening to take his car. He paid £408 on the spot but wants a refund and an apology from the council. He is still waiting on both.
On September 26, a bus broke down next to Westbridge Garage which led to a vehicle recovery worker directing traffic into the bus lane to ease congestion.
However, when the council was asked if those who drove in the bus lane during this time would be refunded, a spokesman said they must appeal their fines. The council revealed ZERO people out of around 30-50 vehicles have yet to appeal their fines from that day.
The council claims the bus lane and its camera is there to help "lower emissions thereby helping both local air quality and climate change". Some have argued that the bus lane creates more traffic than it alleviates.
WNC said the number of people incorrectly using the bus lane has fallen by 57 per cent since the camera was switched on.