Councillors agree on further CCTV crackdown to fine drivers illegally using bus lanes in Northamptonshire

Councillors have agreed to a further crackdown on nuisance car drivers who illegally use bus lanes.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 12:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 12:18 pm
The county council is cracking down on drivers who use bus lanes illegally, starting at The Drapery in Northampton, and in Wellingborough town centre

Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet had agreed in August to introduce CCTV enforcement in The Drapery in Northampton, and in Wellingborough town centre. It came after trials in 2017 found there were 793 vehicles flouting the rules every day over a fortnight in Wellingborough, and 427 vehicles doing the same every day for a week at The Drapery.

Members were told this week that the CCTV cameras were currently being procured and would be installed ‘early in the New Year’ for both those locations, but they also decided to give delegated authority to executive council directors and cabinet member for transport Councillor Jason Smithers to extend the scheme where possible.

Councillor Smithers said he was keen to hear from fellow councillors about other areas where enforcement cameras could go. Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday (December 17), he said: “It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point, but it has the potential to make a real difference and enhance the road experience for cyclists, which will help with a modal shift and help reduce cars on the roads in Northamptonshire. It will also help us as we strive towards more sustainable transport options within the county.”

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Drivers who are caught breaking the rules will be fined £60, which would be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. But 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.

Labour councillor Winston Strachan ‘welcomed’ the idea, saying: “From my perspective, enforcement is long overdue in the Drapery and also on that stretch in Wellingborough. However I do have concerns about whether vehicles making deliveries to businesses in the Drapery and unmarked emergency vehicles will be exempt. Would enforcement be 24/7?”

Councillor Smithers responded: “I would assume they would be working 24/7, there would be no reason why there wouldn’t be. A bus lane is a bus lane.

“In answer to your question about emergency vehicles and so on, I would assume there would be technology in place that identifies these vehicles as and when they trigger speed traps, so those registrations would be logged and clearly common sense would prevail and not issue a ticket.”

At the moment, no other potential locations have been put forward for enforcement, and they would need to gain enough income if they were to be approved.

Cabinet papers state: “At this stage as the additional locations for enforcement are not yet known and no data exists to provide estimates of the number of contraventions that are likely to occur, it is not possible to forecast the level of income as a result of this proposal. It will be necessary to carry out a financial assessment of each site to ensure that it will be viable before the executive director agrees to the implementation at the new site.”

Council leader Matt Golby added: “Everyone supports this being put in place as soon as possible, and all of us could name at least two or three other areas where we would like to see something happen, because it’s infuriating when most people are abiding by the rules but some people flout them.”