28th Oct, 2016

Coventry Tories hit out at council's 'unfair' bus gate refund policy

Lauren Clarke 30th Sep, 2016 Updated: 3 hours ago

CONSERVATIVE councillors in Coventry have said they are ‘appalled’ by the Labour-run Council’s failure to reimburse 13,000 drivers who were wrongly fined for driving through bus gates in the city.

To date, only 400 of the 13,000 motorists – just three per cent – have been refunded the £30 penalty fee (or higher £60 fee if it was not paid within 14 days) after it emerged earlier this year that the bus gates were wrongly sign-posted.

Tim Mayer, Tory councillor for Westwood, has hit out at the Council’s unwillingness to write to each motorist individually, making them aware of the refund they are due.

Coun Tim Mayer

He argues the council should ‘do the right thing by hardworking taxpayers’ and be more proactive in giving people back their money.

Coun Mayer added: “Coventry Conservatives are pleased that the council agreed to refund each affected driver, but I have urged the council to change its policy.

“At the moment, they are being reactive rather than proactive and that is very unfair on those motorists who may not realise that they paid a fine they should never have received.”

Coun Mayer’s calls come after the Observer learnt that York and Bath Councils wrote to the 13,000 and 9,000 drivers, respectively, who they had wrongly fined for using bus gate or bus lanes – explaining the situation and advising them of their right to apply for a refund.

“I want our council to follow the example of Councils such as York and Bath to ensure that it writes to all effected drivers explaining the situation and advising them of their right to apply for a refund,” Coun Mayer explained.

“That the Council has so far returned only roughly £11,700 of the £398,460 owed to motorists is deeply unfair.”

The illegal fines arose after drivers were caught driving through bus gates – designated sections of road for buses and taxis only at Park Road, Greyfriars Green and Gosford Street – between between December 10, 2015 and April 21, 2016 and fined nearly £400,000 collectively by Coventry City Council.

Council figures, released earlier this year, revealed 1,780 drivers were caught driving through the Park Road bus gate at the interchange with Quinton Road; 9,099 issued penalty charge notices (PCNs) for driving down Warwick Road near Greyfriars Green; and 2,403 motorists caught at the Gosford Street bus gate.

The bus gate signs were initially installed in August 2014, and were re-authorised by the DfT on December 10 last year.

But the Department of Transport (DfT) made a technical error and wrongly de-authorised the signs – meaning any motorist who had been fined for driving through a bus gate between December 10, 2015 and April 21, 2016 had been wrongly charged and is due a refund.