Newcastle 'lucrative' bus lane camera fines refund offered

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John Dobson StreetImage source, Google
Image caption,
John Dobson Street in Newcastle brought in £5,960 a day in bus lane fines in 2016

Drivers caught by "lucrative" cameras on a bus lane in Newcastle are going to be offered refunds on their fines, costing the council up to £2.5m.

It follows a report last month that found there were "misleading and wrong" road signs on John Dobson Street.

Before cameras were turned off in 2017, more than 73,000 drivers were fined.

The city council said it stood by the signage, but wanted to draw a line underneath the issue and people could now claim a refund of up to £90.

In July, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal upheld a previous ruling that drivers were not given enough warning and accused the council of "fundamental negligence".

The Labour-led council commissioned its own legal opinion - at an estimated cost of £5,000 - which it said concluded the adjudicator's decision contained "anomalies".

'Gesture of goodwill'

Almost 92,000 drivers were caught on the northbound side of the city centre road between the camera being installed in February 2016 and shut off in June 2017.

Fines totalled £1.5m from February to October 2016 alone.

The council said the total refund amount could be up to £2.5m, depending on how many applications there are.

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport, said: "All the signage we have falls within Department for Transport guidance whereas the adjudicator seems to have put its own overlay on that and added some more criteria which isn't in line with that guidance, so I think there's a real anomaly in that.

"We're under no obligation to make these payments, to refund these penalties and it is as a gesture of goodwill on behalf of the council that we are doing so.

"Because of the inconsistencies between the adjudicator's report and the Department for Transport's legislation then we could actually take this further by going for a judicial review, but that would be a waste of everyone's time and money."

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