Councillors approve CCTV scheme to fine drivers using bus lanes in Northampton and Wellingborough

The Drapery, in Northampton town centre, will now have its bus lane enforced
The Drapery, in Northampton town centre, will now have its bus lane enforced

CCTV cameras will be installed on bus lanes in Northampton and Wellingborough to help fine drivers who should not be using them.

Members of Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet this afternoon (August 13) agreed to rubber-stamp the proposals on the Drapery in Northampton, and on Church Street and Cambridge Street in Wellingborough.

It will see motorists fined £60, or £30 if paid within a fortnight, if they drive down the bus lanes when they are prohibited from doing so.

The scheme will be introduced in January 2020, but the first two weeks will see warning notices sent out without fines being issued.

A study by the county council in 2017 found that 793 vehicles every day broke the rules in Wellingborough over a period of 14 days. And over the duration of a week, 427 vehicles contravened regulations in the Drapery every day.

Cabinet member for highways Councillor Jason Smithers said: “We found that they were regularly abused by a high number of road users. This abuse leads to a reduction in bus journey time reliability and increases congestion and pollution.

“It is proposed to install CCTV cameras to employ ANPR technology to enforce the bus lanes. The capital costs of installation are estimated to be £148,000, which will be funded from the surplus generated by the parking enforcement service. In order to process the resulting penalty charge notices, the parking enforcement services resource levels will be increased. Ongoing revenue costs will be £192,000 per annum.”

The move was welcomed by Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Chris Stanbra, but he had some questions over the numbers behind the scheme.

He said: “It is to be welcomed that bus lanes will rightly be enforced. But the ongoing costs of £192,000 in a full financial year seems like an awful lot of money to me. I’d be interested to know what we’re spending it on, it can’t be equipment costs. Maybe it’s extra staff but I would have thought a lot of systems were in place to collect these penalty charges already?

“And the revenue in the two full months that this will operate in 2019/20 is predicting an income of £658,000. I understand that when the system is first put in place a lot of people will be caught out so there might be more, but that’s a lot of money for two months, especially as the first two weeks will be without charge. I’m interested to know how that works.”

Councillor Smithers responded that the figures are based on evidence from other similar authorities.

Labour leader Councillor Bob Scott added: “We welcome this report and support it. I think one of the areas I would have liked to have seen on there is George Street in Corby in front of the council offices, because we have regularly taken that up as an issue and the police always tell you that they don’t have enough officers to carry out the necessary work to be able to pick people up.”

Councillor Smithers responded: “George Street in Corby is something that we can look at as we move this forward and see how successfully it goes down in Wellingborough and Northampton.”

The scheme has finally been progressed after having been halted before due to the council issuing a section 114 notice banning new expenditure.

Any surplus money generated from the scheme will be reinvested back into the highways budget. It is anticipated to net the county council £482,000 in 2019-20, and £333,000 in the following two financial years.