Thousands fined at Nottingham 'bus gate with no public buses'

Entrance to Shakespeare Street
Image caption The fines were given to motorists who drove down the western end of Shakespeare Street in Nottingham

More than 11,000 drivers have been fined in one year for going through a so-called bus gate that is not on any public bus routes.

Nottingham City Council makes £60 from each penalty charge notice (PCN) issued in Shakespeare Street in Nottingham - or £30 if the fee is paid early.

The Institute of Highway Engineers said the signs could be confusing and the council was on "dodgy ground".

But the council insisted its signs were up to standard.

It said in a statement: "The Shakespeare Street bus gate was only introduced last year, is properly signed and we would expect to see the numbers drop as people get used to the changes."

Although this part of the road is not used by any scheduled bus services, the council said it was used by buses taking students to Nottingham Trent University.

A bus gate, bus lane or pedestrian zone?

The western end of Shakespeare Street is described as a "Pedestrian Zone" at both entrances but other signs warn there is "24 hr Bus Lane Enforcement".

When asked what this was classed as, a council spokesperson said: "There's a bus gate on a section of Shakespeare Street which means only buses are allowed through. This therefore creates a pedestrian zone beyond."

The council explained:

•A bus lane generally runs alongside other traffic on a road allowing buses to gain priority over other traffic

•A bus gate is an entry point across a road which means only buses are allowed to go any further

•A pedestrian zone is an area where most vehicles are not allowed

Image caption Nottingham should use signs like this one in Leicester, according to the chief executive of the Institute of Highway Engineers

Richard Hayes, chief executive of the Institute of Highway Engineers, said Nottingham's signs could be confusing.

He said the "box brownie" camera symbol on the approach to bus lanes should also have the words "bus lane cameras", like those used in other cities.

"I do think we owe a duty of responsibility to any motorist, whether they be from the local area or from outside, to make sure we sign and line in a standard format," said Mr Hayes.

"If that's not being done, then I think they are on very dodgy ground in terms of trying to enforce those restrictions."

Fines rose by 45%

  • Nottingham City Council made £1.7m from PCNs in 2015-2016
  • The number of fines rose by 45% to 60,271 for this financial year
  • The "bus gate" at the west end of Shakespeare Street generated more fines than any other - 11,266
  • Any money raised from these fines must be spent on transport improvements

Last year Dr Stephen Sutcliffe from Liverpool won an appeal against a fine for using the lane, on the grounds signs were not clear.

He said: "Since we were there they have put a temporary sign at one end of the bus lane in addition to the fixed signage that was there at the time, which suggests a tacit admission to the assertion the signage is inadequate."

Nottingham City Council said: "There is absolutely no doubt the signs warning motorists about camera enforcement in Nottingham are up to standard, comply fully with Department for Transport guidelines, and that areas enforced by cameras in the city remain fully enforceable.

"Motorists have a duty to observe all road signs and must comply with the restrictions - the vast majority do and are not issued with fines."

It added it had challenged the ruling in Dr Sutcliffe's case and the matter was subject to judicial review.

You can see more on this story on BBC East Midlands at 18:30 GMT on BBC One on Wednesday 8 February or via iPlayer afterwards.

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