Bus Lane Camera in Southcote

The issue:

Local residents, including Lieutenant Kenneth Guest, contacted Alok to raise concerns that an inappropriately signposted bus lane located in Southcote Lane, which only operates for 75 minutes per day on weekdays between the hours of 7.30am and 8.45am, has been used to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Council coffers. Residents, including Lt Guest who successfully appealed against eleven fines for this bus lane, complained that the road signs on the approaches to the bus lane are unclear and that the signage to warn motorists of the restriction is inadequate and too small in size.

Achievements to date:

  • Alok wrote to Reading Borough Council to raise his constituents’ concerns that that the bus lane has been used principally to raise significant sums of money for the Council, given an Appeals Adjudicator’s conclusion in Lt Kenneth Guest’s successful appeal case, which stated that “the advance warning signs and the bus lane entry signs do not give adequate information about the bus lane”. Alok’s letter to the Council asked whether the signage had been updated following the adjudicator’s conclusion in this case.
  • The Council’s response stated that it had reviewed the signs in question and that ‘adjustments have been made to them’, although these adjustments did not include an increase in the size of any of the advance warning signs.
  • Alok submitted a FOI request regarding the bus lane to the Council, and this revealed that between the installation of a camera at the bus lane in July 2009 and May 2012 over 9,570 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued. The £60 PCN fine, with a 50% reduction if paid within 14 days, means the Council would have received between £287,100 and £574,200 in fines for that period.
  • Alok wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport to request clarification with regards to whether the bus lane warning signs in question meet statutory requirements. The response which Alok received from Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, indicated that the signs do not meet statutory requirements.
  • Alok therefore wrote again to Reading Borough Council, enclosing the response from the Department for Transport and requesting that the existing advance warning signs are replaced with ones which meet statutory requirements.

Next steps:

  • Alok is pressing Reading Borough Council for a response to his latest request and will continue to press the Council to replace the signs with ones which meet statutory requirements.

Alok says:

“I continue to have concerns that the Council has not heeded previous requests to increase the font size for the operating times of the bus lane on the advance directional signs, which by any reasonable person’s judgement is too small to be read even by a careful motorist.”

“Whilst the Council maintains that the signs are fully compliant with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, the response I have received from the Department for Transport seriously calls this into question. I therefore again appeal to the Council to listen to its local residents and the Department for Transport and take a pragmatic approach by improve the signposting.”