Bus lane fine could ‘cost couple their car’

Dawn and Geoffrey Bonelle. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Dawn and Geoffrey Bonelle. Picture: Stewart Attwood
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A FAMILY face having their £5000 car seized by Scotland’s largest council to settle an unpaid bus gate fine.

Geoffrey and Dawn Bonelle, from Livingston, have been battling Glasgow City Council over the fixed penalty notice for more than a year. They claim the fine – imposed after Mr Bonelle, 67, drove through Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place bus gate last October – is unfair as he saw no signs stating that cars were banned.

But with the original £30 penalty having risen to £274, Mrs Bonelle, the owner of the car, is set to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court next week to challenge the council’s attempts to seize the family’s vehicle to pay off the debt.

Sheriff’s officers visited the couple’s home last month with an arrestment order for the Dacia Stepway Sandero, valuing the car at £1700 – a figure the Bonelles argue is far less than they paid for it in 2013.

Mr Bonelle, 67, a retired army officer who now volunteers at Citizens Advice, said he was attending a training seminar in Glasgow when the vehicle’s satnav told him to turn off through Nelson Mandela Place.

He said: “At no time did I see any signs or notices advising me it was a bus gate. There were a lot of cars both in front of me and behind me travelling the exact same way so it never entered my mind that I was doing anything wrong.”

He has insisted the couple need the car to help take care of their autistic son, who stays at a Fife residential centre for adults during the week and suffers “severe stress and physical distress” on public transport.

Mr Bonelle said: “The car is needed to collect him from Lochgelly, bring him to Livingston on a Friday evening and return him back to Lochgelly on a Sunday afternoon. It is also used to take him out for the day when he is having unsettled periods. Without the car we could do none of the above.”

The pair claim Glasgow City Council failed to provide an application form for the Scottish Parking Appeals Service.

But the council insisted “all correspondence sent out by the council to the registered keeper of the vehicle, including appeal forms, has been accounted for”.

A spokeswoman said Nelson Mandela Place had a total of seven permanent signs advising drivers of the bus gate.

She added: “Debt recovery agents have a number of measures available to them to get the fees/money.

“This, the seizing of a car, is just part of their recovery process to get the fees. There have been several opportunities offered to Mrs Bonelle to pay the bus lane penalty charge notice at the reduced rate of £30 as well as at £60.”