Tyne & Wear

Newcastle bus lane fine motorists set for refund

The bus lane at John Dobson Street
Image caption The cameras were introduced in February this year

Thousands of unwitting drivers fined for travelling down a bus lane with "inadequately lit" signage are to be refunded.

About 5,100 drivers caught during the hours of darkness in a two-month window will have their fines returned.

Newcastle City Council said bus lane warning signs were erected before new regulations - which do not require lighting - came into force.

The move will cost the authority £117,500 in refunds.

Viral appeal

The two cameras on John Dobson Street have raised a total of £1.3m in fines since they were introduced in February.

Motorist David Crawford-Emery appealed to a tribunal on behalf of his girlfriend, after she received a fine for driving in the bus lane on John Dobson Street.

He won the appeal on the grounds "no offence had been committed", and shared the adjudicator's decision online, where it was shared more than 4,000 times.

"The adjudicator said the yellow and black advance warning sign that had been further down John Dobson Street was not sufficient on its own to give drivers advanced warning of this change.

"It said it was set back from the road, which it was, on the far edge of the pavement, it contained quite detailed information which would be difficult for a driver to fully take in."

Mr Crawford-Emery added: "I shared it for benefit of the fact I thought one or two of my friends may have been caught, and it went viral."

In a statement, the city council apologised and said any drivers due to receive a refund would be contacted directly.

"We are currently reviewing all adjudicators' decisions to see if we need to take any further action," it said.

"During this review we found that we issued 5,100 penalty charge notices during hours of darkness between 23 February and 22 April when the bus gate signs were not lit up.

"This happened because we were working to new Department for Transport regulations, which do not require lighting but which came into force later than we had anticipated."

Barry Speker, a senior consultant at Sintons solicitors, said those fined during daylight hours may have grounds to appeal and could affect "many thousands" of motorists and "hundreds of thousands" of pounds.

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