26th Jun, 2022

Coventry council chiefs wanted to 'entrap' motorists for £120k more fines, claims ex-cabinet member

Felix Nobes 17th Apr, 2019 Updated: 17th Apr, 2019

EX-cabinet member Jayne Innes quit over fellow Coventry council chiefs’ proposals to ‘entrap’ and fine even more motorists to an EXTRA £120,000 from bus lane enforcement, she claims.

The Labour councillor spoke to the Coventry Observer this week in an attempt to clear her name.

Her departure last November from the often controversial City Services cabinet member post – while she continues as councillor for Whoberley – had come amid internal and public fall-outs, after an independent tribunal had repeatedly ruled the council was unfairly fleecing fined motorists out of millions of pounds.

She now claims she quit over senior officers’ proposals to add four more enforcement cameras at bus lanes without informing her.

It made her position of two-and-a-half years untenable, she says.

Coun Innes claimed the plan was projected to make the council £120,000, but was withdrawn after the consultation process that went ahead despite her opposition.

The former cabinet member oversaw the city centre Restricted Parking Zone city debacle and bus gate fines saga – which saw the council rake in millions of pounds in penalties from infringing Coventry motorists.

Adjudicators at the national Traffic Penalty Tribunal had repeatedly ruled both schemes had failed to adequately or fairly notify motorists of the restrictions, with “inadequate” road signage. The tribunal went further over the RPZ and accused the council of acting with the “delusion of King Canute”.

Tory councillors called a council Extraordinary General Meeting and accused Coun Innes of ‘misleading’ council and the public in denying the problems, which she vehemently denied, and she lodged a failed formal complaint against the opposition councillors’ conduct.

After fellow Labour councillor Pat Hetherton took over the role, belated changes were made to improve bus gates road signage. Yet such changes had been proposed by road safety campaigner Richard Heneghan via his @KovBlog Twitter account for years, and had been ignored.

Coun Innes told us: “I was locked out of the budget setting process for 2019/20.

“You should never be excluded as a cabinet member. I would expect to be properly consulted and be part of the process.

“I wasn’t going to be in a position where I was concerned that officers might be using bus lanes as a way of imposing a regressive tax.

“If I’d been consulted, the policy would never have got into that budget process.

“You don’t just enforce for the sake of it.

“Fines are a flat rate. They are a regressive tax.

“If we were doing any enforcement in my name. I needed to be absolutely 100 per cent clear it was for a good traffic reason.

“But I was concerned it was entrapment. I was never told we had a problem with motorists wrongly using our bus lanes.

“It would be unfair on motorists.

“If we’d have had the adjudicators back in the city, the whole of the signage and the enforcement and the whole of the council would have been brought into disrepute.”

Many of the city’s bus lanes were removed under Coun Innes, to improve traffic flow and air quality along the city’s roads.

Coun Innes was also involved in introducing Average Speed Cameras along London Road and Ansty Road – two of the most dangerous in the city.

She was also instrumental in working with the family of late brothers Corey and Casper Platt-May, aged six and two, to bring in traffic calming measures on Longfellow Road, Stoke, Coventry, where they were tragically killed by speeding driver Robert Brown.

All the circumstances of Coun Innes’ departure are still not known.

We have contacted the council for a response.

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