The fiasco of Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) council’s ill-advised bus lane has dominated the local news for the last couple of weeks, but now questions are being asked about the cost of it all. Public anger at the high level of fines charged on unsuspecting motorists as they drove past a camera meant to deter them from driving along a temporary bus lane has forced the council into a rapid u-turn.
Having raised over £250,000 in fines in just one month, B&NES was forced to admit its signage had been poor and would cancel immediately the experimental bus lane. One driver, going about his daily business, was fined ten times at a total cost of £650! B&NES then decided to reimburse everyone who had been fined.
‘It cost more than £200,000 to refund all the fines collected,’ said Cllr Anthony Clarke, ‘but it will cost many thousands more to rectify the mistake in admin and officer time to process the thousands of refunds, not to mention the cost of implementing the bus gate in the first place.’
Many of the drivers fined were visitors to the city and tourism officials are concerned at the negative impact this has had on their impression of Bath, discouraging them from coming back and creating bad word of mouth. That will be a further cost to Bath residents and traders.
‘The council’s mishandling of Dorchester Street bus gate is widely recognised as one of B&NES’s biggest shambles since the Spa,’ said Cllr Clarke. ‘But what makes it worse is that the Lib Dems were warned time and time again that they were heading for disaster. Yet they simply refused to listen.’
Now the local taxpayers will have to pick up the bill for this.