Council to refund thousands of bus lane charges

TRANSPORT chiefs are to waive every fine handed out to motorists caught in bus lanes on one of the city’s main roads.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th May 2012, 1:56 pm

Thousands of drivers caught by two cameras on Willowbrae Road in east Edinburgh will have their fines quashed or refunded, the Evening News has learned.

Also, motorists who received multiple bus lane fines will have all but the first one waived.

The move is part of a major review of the troubled system after just four weeks of operation.

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Transport officials made the decision yesterday to axe two cameras in Willowbrae after Lesley Hinds ordered the review as she become the city’s new transport leader.

More motorists have been caught by the two Willowbrae cameras in a single month than council chiefs had expected to catch on all five cameras in an entire year.

Provisional figures show 4300 drivers have been sent fines, with 2200 having paid and around 500 pursuing appeals over the two sites alone.

Over the next few days all of those fined will receive a letter explaining that fines are being waived and those who have paid will receive refunds.

Officials are examining how to issue the refunds but intend to make the process automatic.

Transport chiefs are also looking at the city-wide issue of multiple fines. It is believed many drivers only realised they were breaking the rules when they received multiple fines in the post. The council intends to waive all but the first fine, so someone who received ten in one go due to delays in issuing them would only pay the first.

Last week minibus driver Thomas Renwick amassed 30 fines on Calder Road ferrying special needs children to school despite being assured by police his vehicle was classed as a bus.

He said because of the delay in issuing fines he was unaware he was being caught and continued racking up fines.

The AA today said the council should have learned from the experience of other cities such as Manchester and London.

Paul Watters, head of policy, said: “This sounds like an unholy mess. If people have been caught because they’ve clipped a wheel over the line that’s totally ridiculous. There has to be a little give and take.

“They should have learned of the pitfalls of camera enforcement from other cities.”

Commenting on the fine delays, he added: “To send multiple tickets is an insult. It might be the letter of law but there’s no need to enforce it with a sledgehammer.”

Clearly it wasn’t fair

As the News reported last week, residents in one Willowbrae street found themselves fined every day as entering or leaving their street involved driving through one of the enforced lanes.

Fiona Patterson, 27, received two fines 17 days after being caught and feared she would receive one every day. She said: “I’m delighted the council has found common sense. Clearly it wasn’t fair that people couldn’t drive into their own street.”