A visitor to South Tyneside has hit out at a ‘confusing’ bus lane system which has pocketed the council £1,470 in fines in 10 months.
Fred Kirkland received a £60 fine for driving in the bus lane outside of South Shields Town Hall in Westoe Road.
Mr Kirkland, from Washington, said he ended up in the lane after not spotting any warning signs as he drove along Beach Road and turned left into Westoe Road.
He said: “Following a recent visit back to South Shields, I found myself inadvertently driving through a bus lane at the town hall.
“I could not escape the bus lane due to the kerbing that bordered it and subsequently was issued with a penalty notice.”
Out of curiosity, Mr Kirkland submitted a Freedom of Information Request to South Tyneside Council to find out how many other drivers had fallen victim.
He said the figures showed that 423 motorists have been fined a total of £1,470 between the period of April 1 2015 and January 31 2016.
Mr Kirkland appealed the notice with the council – which was rejected. But he then he took it to an adjudicator and won his case.
He said: “I assume many of them, if not all, did not appeal to the adjudicator as I did, and I have suggested to the town hall that these people should be reimbursed and the correct signage put in place to avoid the obvious misleading road signs that are already there.
“The officers at the council do not agree that the signs are misleading and that no warning sign is appropriate.
“I don’t know how that can be true when 423 motorists have been fined over such a short period, and they refuted the suggestion that they have deliberately done so hoping to get away with it.
“Clearly the road from Beach Road into Westoe Road does not have a warning sign, and this in itself is a danger to any traffic not familiar with the route.”
However, council bosses say Mr Kirkland’s fine was only wavered due to a computer error, which meant the relevant material couldn’t be provided in time for his hearing.
But they say the bus lane complies with all necessary Department for Transport regulations.
A council spokesman said: “The bus lane outside the town hall complies with all the necessary Department For Transport regulations, as do all the other bus lanes in the borough.
“Video cameras automatically record incidents of people illegally driving in a bus lane and their vehicle registration plate.
“However, in this instance, a computer error meant we were unable to provide the relevant information to the Traffic Penalties Tribunal within the required timescale to contest Mr Kirkland’s appeal.”