Councillor urges drivers to fight bus lane fines after woman wins appeal

Coun Lee Hughes at the Edinburgh Road junction
Coun Lee Hughes at the Edinburgh Road junction

A councillor has urged motorists to consider fighting fines imposed at a South Tyneside roads hotspot - after the first successful appeal.

Lee Hughes also repeated his calls for highways chiefs to go back to the drawing board to improve warnings signs around a new bus lane at Edinburgh Road, Scotch Estate, Jarrow.

Related: Driver escapes bus lane fine as regulator slams ‘inadequate’ signs at controversial junction

He insisted markings remained highly confusing and difficult to spot - and were trapping drivers unnecessarily.

Over 4,500 penalty notices have been issued since the bus lane was introduced last July as part of a £7.5m improvement scheme.

South Tyneside Council, which has made around £270,000 from fines, insists the site is clearly marked and meets Department for Transport regulations.

But last week the government’s Traffic Penalty Tribunal overturned a ticket imposed on an 80-year-old grandmother.

She had driven into the lane but reversed out after realising her error, a manoeuvre captured on CCTV.

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s adjudicator said photographic evidence showed the road signs to be small and easily missed – and upheld the appeal.

Coun Hughes, who represents the independent Putting People First party, said: “I’ve said from day one that these signs need to be looked at again.

“People who have received tickets should look at this appeal, look at the small print, and see if they think they should appeal. It’s worked for this lady.

“The whole issue is about the lack of clear signage, the signs are inadequate, and the council really needs to look at this again.

“I’m not saying that the ‘bas gate’ is wrong, just that there is a lack of clear signage.

“If they have proved inadequate for an 80-year-old woman, then they must also be wrong for others.”

The bus lane exists onto the west-bound three-lane 40mph A194 Newcastle Road.

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

The motorist’s successful appeal came after two failed bids to South Tyneside Council.

In response to the adjudication, the council said: “Since the restrictions were introduced in Edinburgh Road last summer eight appeals to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal have ruled in the Council’s favour, including when signage has been a factor.

“It is regrettable that due to resource issues we were unable to respond to the requests for further information about signage on this particular occasion.

“While we note the adjudicator’s decision in this case, we understand this decision was based on the incorrect assumption that the speed limit on Edinburgh Road is 40mph. The speed limit is 20mph.

“We will be contacting the adjudication panel regarding their information gathering processes.”