Council U-turn over festive fines for driving in bus lanes

ROADS bosses have done a U-turn on a decision to fine ­motorists for driving in bus lanes at Christmas - when there are no ­buses on the roads.

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The council fined motorists for driving in bus lanes on Christmas and New Year's Day - despite there being no buses on the roads
The council fined motorists for driving in bus lanes on Christmas and New Year's Day - despite there being no buses on the roads

The decision follows an Evening Times campaign which highlighted motorists hit with penalties on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

They include a man sent a fixed penalty notice for driving in a bus lane as he rushed to his dying mother-in-law's bedside on December 25.

Following a flood of complaints, the council has now decided to introduce a pilot scheme which will operate only on the two quietest days of the festive season.

That will result in bus lane cameras remaining on, but drivers who use them on December 25 and January 1, when buses are off the road, will not face fines.

But motorists who have been caught in the past on the two festive days will still have to pay up.

A council spokesman said: "We will be holding a trial this year where the cameras will not be switched off but contraventions will not be processed or be enforced.

"Around £30million was invested by the council, First Glasgow and the Scottish Government in a bid to improve public transport in the city and the bus lane enforcement scheme is helping to get full benefit from that.

"We are committed to improving public transport provision through bus lane enforcement. This trial gives us the opportunity to bring bus lane enforcement in line with on street enforcement on Christmas and New Year's Days."

But Neil Greig, of the IAM Motoring Trust, said the council's compromise decision to run a trial made no sense.

He said: "They don't need cameras when there are no buses. Drivers will now be wondering if they are on or not, which will just cause confusion.

"I don't see it as a good compromise. The council should just admit it got it wrong and switch the cameras off when there are no buses."

SNP councillor and ­former bus driver Malcolm Balfour has been lobbying the council to stop using bus lane cameras over the festive period.

He wrote to officials last week calling on them to back down and also urging them to make the 24-hour bus lanes peak time only.

Mr Balfour said: "The fact they are going to trial this is a step in the right direction but I don't see why they need a trial when they can make it a permanent fixture.

"I would call for it to be extended to December 26 and January 2 when there are limited services."

We told you recently how council Scrooges caught 370 motorists driving in bus lanes on Christmas and New Year's Day, des­pite there being no buses on the roads.

The local authority stands to make at least £11,100 from the fines over the two days.

Meanwhile the driver, who was fined for driving in a bus lane on the way to his gravely ill mother-in-law's bedside on Christmas Day, is still to hear if his appeal has been successful.

We highlighted the case of Jack Wilson, originally from Glasgow but now living in Leeds, who was travelling with his wife Mary to the Drumchapel care home when he was snapped by a part-time bus lane camera in Great Western Road.

His mother-in-law, 86-year-old Jessie Bateman, sadly died on December 27.

Mr Wilson, 65, lodged an appeal with the council on January 21 and attached a copy of Ms Bateman's death certificate.

He received an e-mail telling him that he would hear back within 20 working days.

But he still hadn't had a response six weeks later.

After the Evening Times contacted Glasgow City Council last week, Mr Wilson received an e-mail to tell him his appeal was "being reviewed further" and also apologising for the delay in the outcome of the appeal.

The appeal was due to be heard at a meeting on Friday but this was cancelled at short notice and rescheduled for yesterday.

But, despite the Evening Times requesting the outcome of the hearing, this is still unknown and Mr Wilson is yet to be informed.

Last year, 11 bus lane cameras were introduced and since then, one in Cath­edral Street has been suspended, and a further five added giving 15 in total.

Council figures for penalty charges issued in bus lanes show the number has fallen in six locations and increased in three.

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