Pressure mounts after Essex County Council agrees to refund £1m of its bus lane fines
Birmingham City Council has been urged to follow the example of Colchester and pay back bus lane enforcement fines issued unfairly to motorists.
The authority’s transport department has come under fire after issuing more than 80,000 fines to drivers since cameras were installed in the city centre last September.
A third of the £60 fines – £30 if paid in 14 days – were issued by a single camera on Priory Queensway.
Angry motorists, taxi drivers and the council’s own transport scrutiny committee have claimed the signs are unclear, particularly to cars approaching from Steelhouse Lane, and amount to entrapment.
In similar circumstances Essex Country Council has agreed that bus lane signs in Colchester town centre are not clear enough and agreed to refund an estimated £1 million worth of fines, while making it clear that signs are being beefed up and new fines will be enforced.
Now opposition Conservative transport spokesman Coun Timothy Huxtable is calling on Birmingham to follow suit.
Coun Huxtable (Bournville) said: “Birmingham should consider following the example in Colchester.
“Many people agree that the signs, while fulfilling the minimum legal requirement, are not clear and more could be done to make people aware of it.
“I would particularly urge the transport department to consider refunding those people who did not realise they were using bus lanes for several days, such as those visiting the Children’s Hospital, before the first penalty notice arrived.”
Despite widespread criticism the city council’s transport department has so far refused to waive or reconsider the bus lane fines, although bosses have agreed a review of the signs which is taking place this month.
They revealed that by mid-December the fines had raised about £1.7 million income for the authority.
The council’s transport scrutiny committee last month said that the fines were unfair to motorists as many were simply unaware they were in a bus lane and added that enforcement was putting at risk public trust in the local authority.