Bus lane cameras to return on November 6

The troubled Fishergate bus lane
The troubled Fishergate bus lane

Fishergate’s controversial bus lane cameras will be switched back on in time for the Christmas shopping rush if county councillors give the go-ahead next week.

A date of November 6 has been earmarked for the return of fixed penalty “fines” for anyone using the lanes between 11am and 6pm.

The move will also see Lune Street become two-way for a trial period of six months, with a new access point onto Ringway to help ease congestion.

That will become permanent if the experiment proves successful.

The cameras were switched off earlier this year after a ruling that signs warning drivers were not sufficient.

A total of 30,000 motorists got £60 tickets - reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days - but only 9,000 applied for a refund.

Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “If our cabinet agrees these changes, we’ll be switching the cameras back on along Fishergate, as well as carrying out advertising and promotion to make people more aware of the bus lanes.

“I gave a commitment that we wouldn’t reintroduce the bus lane enforcement until we could make Lune Street two-way. It’s important to us that we can maximise the benefits of these changes, while reducing the impact on people leaving the city centre.

“We don’t want anyone to get caught out by these cameras. We’re happy if we don’t make a penny from them, as it means that people are doing the right thing.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of drivers ignoring these restrictions since we suspended the camera enforcement, which shows that we need additional measures in place.

“We know that shoppers using the shopping centre car park and through Avenham were particularly affected by these bus lanes. We’ve looked in detail at various measures to reduce some of the issues that we identified during the trial period and improve the overall experience in the city centre for drivers and pedestrians.”

If the proposals are agreed by cabinet, four large new signs would be added on Fishergate itself, as well as Fox Street, Lune Street and Chapel Street. A sign will also be added at the top of Butler Street.

Earlier this year, an independent adjudicator found that the legal order for the bus lane between Mount St and Corporation Street was properly made. But LCC say he allowed several appeals on the basis of the “sufficiency” of signing, and suggested changes would be needed.

The authority says the bus lanes have removed an average of 2,700 vehicles each day from the section between Mount Street and Corporation Street. Bus journeys have become more reliable and journey times have reduced.

Since the Fishergate improvement work took place, wider pavements have provided more space for pedestrians, new pavement cafes have been created, and modern street furniture has been introduced, including more seating.

Pedestrian crossing times at the main junctions have reduced significantly, by as much as 75 per cent.