Road traffic chiefs have delivered a potentially expensive blow to hundreds of drivers who have been caught on camera at a controversial junction in South Tyneside.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal has ruled that the signs at the junction of Edinburgh Road and the A194 Leam Lane, Jarrow, are adequate.
Council chiefs stand to rake in a staggering £210,000 in fines after 3,506 motorists were caught on camera flouting a ban on using a 20m stretch of road in just three months.
Since July, only buses can use the exit from the Scotch Estate.
Vehicle owners have the right to appeal if they feel the fine has been wrongly issued, but an appeal lodged with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal challenging a ticket on the basis that the signage at Edinburgh Road failed to meet the required legal standard ended with the TPT upholding the decision to issue the fine.
Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council, said: “Our absolute priority is road safety and the exit was closed to vehicles except buses to enhance safety.
I’m very disappointed with the resultCoun Lee Hughes
“The restrictions also help to ease congestion and improve traffic flows at what is a very busy gateway in and out of South Shields.
“There has been some challenge following the closure of the road, with particular reference to the signage in place.
“However, the response from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal is further assurance for the travelling public that the bus gate at Edinburgh Road is clearly signed and complies with the requisite Department for Transport regulations.
“Motorists who do not observe the restrictions are not only risking their own safety and the safety of others but are also committing an offence.”
Independent Putting People First councillor, Coun Lee Hughes, was one of a number of people who raised concerns over the junction.
Coun Hughes said: “I’m very disappointed with the result. There is still no signage on Glasgow Road to let people know of the bus gate. And what exactly is a bus gate?
“I think they need to re-write the Highway Code if they are saying bus gates exist.”
In the three weeks after the junction was made off limits, on July 24, 800 vehicle users – or about 270 a week – were caught out.
Over the next eight weeks – to October 10 – a further 2,700 drivers, or around 337 a week, had illegally passed through.
Each ticket carries a £60 fine, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks.