13,156 drivers caught on camera in controversial South Tyneside bus lane

Thousands of motorists have been caught speeding in Edinburgh Road, on the Scotch Estate, Jarrow.
Thousands of motorists have been caught speeding in Edinburgh Road, on the Scotch Estate, Jarrow.

Motorists have been walloped with fines totalling almost £800,000 at a controversial South Tyneside CCTV hotspot in just one year, the Gazette can reveal.

Latest statistics show 13,156 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued for infringements at the 20m-long ‘bus gate’ zone at Edinburgh Road on the Scotch Estate, Jarrow.

At £60 a time, the £789,360 figure is over a tenth the £7.5m cost of the year-long road upgrade scheme which led to the no entry stretch being introduced.

It could have been even higher if a fault with South Tyneside Council’s PCN system had meant just two tickets were issued in October.

At its peak last August 3,032 PCNs were issued, and the count hit over 1,000 in each month between January and May.

Today campaigners against the zone branded it a ‘cash cow’ and said the figures proved the council was failing motorists.

Former independent Jarrow councillor Lee Hughes said: “The whole policy around bus gate is a disgrace, and I’ve said that from day one.

“If this carries on, in ten years the council will have funded the entire road upgrade project by fining motorists.”

Motorist and retired Army captain Ralph Jackson, 70, who in February failed in a bid to overturn his £60 fine, also slammed the level of PCN notices.

Mr Jackson, of Highfield Road, South Shields, said: “It is simply a cash cow for the council.

“Despite all the complaints and the high number of fines, the council has never been prepared to do anything about it.

“The system there is appalling, the council just wants motorists’ money.”

CCTV monitors a stretch of bus lane, installed as part of an improvement scheme to the A194 Newcastle Road.

Anyone who drives into it faces a £60 fine, reduced to £30 if paid promptly.

Council roads chiefs have insisted warning signs meet all Department of Transport regulations.

But in January an 80-year-old grandmother had her PCN overturned in what is believed to be the first successful appeal case.

Adjudicator Edward Solomons, of the government’s Traffic Penalty Tribunal, condemned warning signs as being too small and easily missed.

CCTV monitoring began in July last year and figures show 3,032 PCNs has been issued by the end of August.

There were 730 in September, two in October, 820 in November and 887 in December.

The number jumped to 1,346 in January, hit 1,491 in February, and fell to 1,382 in March, 1,320 in April, 1,234 in May, and 912 in June.

South Tyneside Council insisted the Edinburgh Road exit was closed to vehicles, except buses, to enhance safety as part of the wider Lindisfarne Improvement Scheme.

Council insists road safety is key priority

South Tyneside Council insisted the Edinburgh Road exit was closed to vehicles, except buses, to enhance safety as part of the wider Lindisfarne Improvement Scheme.

A spokesman said: “The restriction ensures a smoother flow of traffic on the A194, in turn preventing congestion and reducing the risk of accidents. We recognise there are still a significant number of people using the route.

“However over the last six months the average number of drivers receiving fines has halved since the scheme was first introduced, with a steady decline over recent months.

“The bus lane is clearly signed and complies with the requisite Department for Transport regulations.

“Ideally, we would not have to issue any fines, however exiting via Edinburgh Road is illegal and drivers are jeopardising their safety.”