Businessman fined after CCTV camera snapped him in notorious bus lane in South Tyneside

A motorist has told how he felt like a “fly in a fly trap” after entering a notorious South Tyneside car no-go zone – and being unable to escape without a fine.

By Gareth Crickmer
Monday, 29 July, 2019, 06:00
Scotch Estate bus lane onto Leam Lane from Edinburgh Road

David Powell, 60, said he only realised he was in the bus and cyclist-only lane at Edinburgh Road, Jarrow, when he was too far in to safely turn around or reverse out.

Mr Powell, of Hagworthingham, Lincolnshire, was driving a Land Rover Discovery and towing a low plant loader with a combined length of around 31ft.

The business boss insists that meant he had no option but to carry on through the 20m-long off-limits stretch – leaving him caught on CCTV.

David Powell, 60, said he only realised he was in the bus and cyclist-only lane at Edinburgh Road, Jarrow, when he was too far in to safely turn around or reverse out.

He now plans to appeal the £30 fine which he has already paid – and contact his local MP for support – insisting roadside warning markings are inadequate at the Scotch Estate site.

The married dad-of-two said: “This junction is totally unfair for motorists – once you enter it, you just can’t get out without going through it.

“There were other vehicles coming into the road from the opposite direction, so I had no reason to suspect I wasn’t meant to be driving where I was.

“And because they were driving towards me, it was not safe to try to turn around. Once you are in this zone, you are stuffed.

“I used to be a long-distance lorry driver and I’ve come across some weird junctions, but never anything quite like this.

“I feel like I’ve been humiliated over this, it’s a ridiculous road. I’m going to appeal the fine, and contact a local MP to see if they can help.”

Mr Powell, who operates his own digger and driver hire service, was in South Tyneside to collect the newly-bought low loader.

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In December, he was also in borough to buy a motorbike from the same person, but that day took a different route home.

The bus lane was installed in July 2017 as part of the £7.5m road improvement scheme at the John Reid Road and Lindisfarne Roundabout.

In its first year, 13,156 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued by South Tyneside Council for infringements, netting it up to £800,000.

Earlier this year, the council altered warning signs, having previously insisted they met Department for Transport regulations.

A council spokesman said: “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 bus lane at Edinburgh Road is clearly signed and has always complied with the requisite Department for Transport regulations.

“However, we decided to introduce extra signs and road markings to help reduce the number of vehicles using the bus gate and mitigate the safety risk.

"Vehicle owners have the right to appeal if they feel the ticket has been wrongly issued. Details on how to do so can be found on the reverse of the Penalty Charge Notice.

“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.”