ROAD signs belatedly added at Whittle Arch bus gate amid protests against fines for thousands of motorists have seen a massive drop in Penalty Charge Notices issued, say campaigners.
Signage was added by Coventry City Council at the bus gate on Hale Street, city centre, last September.
It follows years of complaints from fined motorists, damning tribunal rulings and denials of problems by council chiefs.
The number of PCNs issued by the council to motorists at the bus gates plunged from between 2,500 and 3,000 per month, to just over 1,000 a month between September and December.
Independent experts at the national Traffic Penalty Tribunal had previous upheld some motorists’ appeals against fines, repeatedly criticising ‘inadequate signage’.
The fines in relation to the Whittle Arch bus gate alone raised more than £1million for the council within five years.
Road safety campaigner Richard Heneghan has maintained throughout the long-standing campaign that some of the signage was also in breach of government regulations.
He has today called for controlling Labour and opposing Conservative councillors to launch a probe into the handling of the debacle.
But council chiefs throughout the controversy insisted the signage was correct and in accordance with national regulation – despite quietly erecting the very signage they had denied was needed.
Mr Heneghan says: “In the tribunal rulings, the vastly experienced lawyers of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal have implored the council to install ‘BUS GATE’ road markings, as they are considered to be the most effective way of warning the public of an impending restriction.
“The council refused, despite reviewing every Tribunal ruling received.
“After prolonged pressure, the council has finally changed the majority of the signage at Whittle Arch and put down the road markings.
“Now that the signage has been corrected and the road markings have been put down, we see the number of people receiving PCNs plummet.
“It is patently clear that tens of thousands of people have been fined unnecessarily.
“If the road markings had been put down when the bus gate was first created (road markings are already in place at every other bus gate in Coventry), the majority of people would not have received a PCN.
“I call on members of both sides of the chamber to unite on this matter, call for an investigation into the conduct of the highways department and to determine how Coventry’s roads have been allowed to be mishandled for so long.”
He added that last week new signs were also put up at Gosford Street bus gate by the council, given Department for Transport rules state that the original small signage should not be used unless absolutely necessary.
And the signs were in place at the end of the bus gate, not the start, as required by government regulation, Mr Heneghan says.
Mr Heneghan has repeatedly called for the council to reverse the fines issued to motorists at bus gates across the city, supported by some opposition councillors.
We have contacted Coventry City Council for a response.