TWO of the city’s five bus lane cameras have been turned off in a move which is set to see many drivers have their fines written off.
The decision follows an outcry from motorists, including residents who were fined on a daily basis for crossing a greenway in order to turn safely into their street.
The devices on Willowbrae Road, at Duddingston Crossroads and Jock’s Lodge, have been de-activated with immediate effect after some residents complained of being hit with £60 fines every day as they turned into their street. A flood of appeals is now expected.
The two cameras – part of five used for enforcement – caught more than 1700 people in their first six days of operation.
Lesley Hinds, the transport leader-elect, ordered officials to investigate the new system just four weeks after it was launched. Positioning of the other cameras will be re- examined in the coming days.
The council also admitted it had failed to provide enough warning on affected routes and had not been ticketing people quickly enough.
The Evening News has revealed a string of controversies over the past month, with drivers being fined while the cameras were supposed to be switched off, and one minibus driver who transports disabled children to school landed with 27 fines despite being assured by police that his vehicle was exempt.
City officials had estimated that 4000 offenders would be caught each year, but 4600 were caught in the first week.
Councillor Hinds said: “I’ve instructed the officials to take the two cameras down in Willowbrae because it’s very clear that the system isn’t working there. We believe the best way to deal with this is to decommission them.”
However, she insisted the council remained committed to catching bus lane cheats.
She added: “The whole point of enforcement is to ensure the buses can flow freely through the city. But the system has to be fair.”
The next stage of the review, she said, would be to examine the siting of the remaining bus lane cameras.
News of both the overhaul and decommissioning of the Willowbrae Road cameras has been welcomed by motoring leaders and local businesses. Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “This is good news but you wonder if they’d have done it if there hadn’t been so much hassle. The issues that they are reviewing should all have been dealt with before the system was put in place. It’s been a farce.”
Jim Boggon, who runs a Londis grocery store in Willowbrae Avenue, also welcomed the removal of the cameras, which he claimed had hit his business.
He said: “I’m very glad they’ve taken them away as the cameras were killing my business between 7.30am and 9.30am.
“No-one would pull in even for a few minutes. I hope that the council will use some common sense before returning them.”