Council chiefs have the potential of raking in a whopping £48,000 in fines after 800 motorists fell foul of a new traffic camera on a South Tyneside road.
That is the number of drivers who - in just three weeks - ignored signs not to leave the Scotch Estate in South Shields by using the Edinburgh Road junction with Newcastle Road and were caught on camera.
The move to make the exit bus only, comes as part of a multi-million pound road traffic scheme to improve the A194 at Lindisfarne Roundabout.
Council chiefs say they are currently processing the paperwork no fines - £60 each - have yet been issued but the number of drivers involved has stunned local councillor Lee Hughes.
The Independent Putting People First councillor said: “This is an absolute disgrace. Right from the start of these roadworks I have let my views be known about the failures I have seen in the scheme.
“A lot people used that junction to exit the estate including lorry drivers and those visiting the area. There is not enough clear signage warning drivers about the bus lane.”
He added: “I am constantly getting messages from people worried because they have driven through, realised and reversed back up - surely this is going to cause more accidents. I’d also like to know what all this money is going to be spent on.”
One senior Labour councillor said: “This is just another way motorists in South Tyneside are being penalised.
“This borough has a road system which is not motorist friendly. We have traffic lights on roundabouts that cause more tailbacks than remedy problems. And now this.”
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council confirmed 800 drivers had been caught on camera.
She said: “Our absolute priority is road safety. The Edinburgh Road exit has been closed to vehicles except buses to enhance safety.
“There is a history of accidents at this location and motorists are jeopardising their safety by not observing the restrictions. The restriction also ensures a smoother flow of traffic on the A194.
“The introduction of the bus gate has been widely publicised in local media, it is signed in accordance with the Traffic Sign Regulations and General Directions 2016 and additional temporary signs were installed for the first two weeks of the new system to further aid motorists.
“Ideally, we would not have to issue any fines, however exiting via Edinburgh Road is both illegal and unsafe and we would encourage motorists to observe the restrictions to avoid receiving a penalty.”