Plymouth driver beats council over bus lane fine
A MOTORIST has become the first person in Plymouth to successfully appeal against a bus lane fine.
But now John Ayre faces a fresh battle, as the council bids to reverse the decision.
It is thought Mr Ayre's six-month fight to have his fine torn up could set a precedent for other drivers who may have been unfairly punished.
As reported in The Herald last month, more than 33,000 penalty charge notices (PCNs) have been dished out since the city's six bus lane cameras we switched on in August last year.
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And we can now reveal that 16,999 of those – almost half of the city's total – came from a single camera in Embankment Road.
Mr Ayre's car was snapped by the camera while he was driving out of Plymouth along Embankment Road on August 26.
He won his appeal against the £30 fine on the grounds that the road signs were misleading.
But the council then challenged the decision of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT).
A second review hearing took place last Wednesday (27), and the 63-year-old now faces an anxious wait for the result.
Mr Ayre, who lives in Whitleigh, says he was surprised to receive the initial fine, arguing the signage at the Cattedown roundabout can cause confusion and lead drivers into a bus lane.
"I was horrified really," he said. "I have been driving in Plymouth since 1970, I was not aware of that area having a bus lane camera. I was pretty upset about it all.
"When I won the appeal I was overjoyed.
"I wanted to inform the public that there should be refunds coming in the post to people that have been fined. That never happened, of course."
Mr Ayre's initial appeal was upheld by the TPT on January 22 – just four days after The Herald quoted council chief Mark Coker as saying: "We are the only authority that has not yet had any penalties overturned."
Adjudicator Deborah Gibson ruled that the advanced warning sign on the roundabout "does not give motorists adequate time to respond" to avoid the bus lane.
But at last week's hearing the council argued that all the signs and road markings are in keeping with Department for Transport (DfT) regulations.
Mark Lawrence, a lawyer representing the council's transport team, said: "We have been left somewhat bemused by this decision.
"We have provided adequate information for persons using the road.
"This information, in the form of signs and road markings, has been approved by the DfT and the signs have been placed in positions where they are not obscured and are clearly visible."
Adjudicator Jonathan Middleton carried out a site visit following the hearing, and a decision is expected in the next few weeks.
The council says it will not pursue Mr Ayre for the money, even if the appeal is upheld. But Mr Ayre, who has also lodged an appeal against a second fine after he was caught in a bus lane in Tavistock Road, Derriford, says the case could set a precedent for other motorists.
"I feel the number of people that are getting fines through their doors is horrendous," he said. "It just beggars belief that in a city this size there are so many fines coming out of those cameras.
"You would think by now, six months on, it would have dropped substantially. But it hasn't."
Another motorist, Ashley Nayeck, has also now successfully appealed against a fine.
He was slapped with a PCN for driving in the Embankment Road bus lane just days after Mr Ayre.
The fine was given for an alleged contravention on August 31 last year, but the TPT adjudicator ruled that the council did not provide the necessary documentation and upheld Mr Nayeck's appeal.
The council, which has not challenged that decision, failed to provide to the tribunal a certificate containing a witness statement from the officer who issued the original PCN, the TPT said.
The local authority said 16,999 fines had been issued by the end of February for the Embankment Road bus lane.