Watch out! Drivers illegally using Wellingborough shortcut to be slapped with fines

The bus gate linking Church Street and Cambridge Street.
The bus gate linking Church Street and Cambridge Street.

Fines are set to be dished out to anyone caught illegally using a Wellingborough town centre shortcut.

The bus gate linking Church Street and Cambridge is currently prohibited to traffic, apart from local buses and taxis, between 9am and 4.30pm from Monday to Saturday.

Next week Northamptonshire County Council's cabinet committee is set to rubber-stamp a plan to introduce ANPR cameras there in a bid to deter motorists from taking the shortcut during busy hours.

Many drivers cut through the bus gate rather than using the one-way system around Alma Street and then Cannon Street.

Cameras were installed there on a trial basis in 2017 for two weeks with, according to the council, a whopping 793 contraventions on average a day - almost twice as many as a second trial site in bus lanes in The Drapery in Northampton.

The county council say the crackdown will improve journey times for bus users and encourage people to use buses more.

Cllr Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “With population growth and increasing car ownership, the volume of traffic on our roads is growing.

“Part of the solution to reducing congestion and pollution is to encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport including buses.

“However a real challenge to this is guaranteeing reliable journey times. I believe this plan will make significant improvements in making bus travel an attractive option for commuters.”

Under the plans anyone caught breaching the bus gate rules will be given a penalty charge of £60. It will be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

There will be a short period of two weeks once the equipment is installed during which warning penalty notices will be issued without charges being levied.

The cameras could be installed by January and council projections forecast the bus gate fines to bring in income of £310,000 per year.

Combined with the income from The Drapery this could generate a surplus of £333,000 per year, which would be re-invested into the council's highways budget.