YORK’S controversial Lendal Bridge restrictions have generated £1.3m in fines but many are being waived because officials lack the resources to fight appeals.
Almost a quarter of fines have been challenged and 64 per cent of appeals have been successful, new statistics obtained by The Press reveal.
The figures show 10,330 of the 42,800 penalty charge notices (PCNs) have been contested, including 6,564 successfully. Total fines income has now hit £1.3 million.
A City of York Council spokeswoman said: “This is due to us using our discretion when drivers have received multiple PCNs, and not contesting appeals when staff resources are limited.”
The statistics also reveal two thirds of all fines have been issued to motorists heading south-west on the bridge, towards the station, prompting renewed criticism of the signs around Bootham Bar, Museum Street and St Leonard’s Place.
The council spokeswoman said it had installed more signs in response to public feedback and said signage could be reviewed again if the trial is made permanent.
The current six-month trial runs until February 27, but it will continue while the council assesses its success or failure.
Kate McMullen, head of tourism organisation Visit York, today said the organisation remained “deeply concerned” about the impact of fines being issued to visitors inadvertently using the bridge. Statistics have shown 80 per cent of fines issued have been to non-York residents.
She said: “It’s crucial all visitors to York have an enjoyable stay without their visit being marred by a follow-up fine and York’s reputation as a welcoming friendly city is important to protect Reducing the number of fines being issued is our greatest concern and we’d like to see measures put in place to address this.”
The new figures are the first to show the breakdown based on direction of travel. By the end of December, 13,740 fines had been issued to traffic heading towards the Minster, but 27,314 had had been issued to traffic going the other way.
Gail Jordan, who works at Evie Brown's Tea Room at the foot of Bootham, said: "The signs they've got are just horrendous. It's just a yellow AA sign. It's not very clear at all.”
She said she wasn’t surprised most fines were for traffic heading from Bootham Bar and said: “I see so many cars going round that corner, and once they are round that corner, there are no more signs for them.”
Of the 36,236 fines paid, 27,937 were at the £30 rate, for paying within two weeks, and 8,298 paid £60 for slower payment or are facing additional action to force payment, possibly at an increased £90 rate.
Between Lendal Bridge and Coppergate, where new restrictions are also in place, 273 cases have referred to the national Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
York Liberal Democrat councillor Ann Reid, who raised questions at December’s council meeting about appeal levels, said last night: “This is the first time the council have admitted they have netted over £1.3m in fines. This is a huge amount but is it enough to offset the damage done to the city’s reputation nationally?"
She said the variance in the direction of fined drivers was striking and showed the signage was not right.
She added: "It would appear that winning your appeal is a matter of luck. It is difficult to understand how “staff resources are limited” when the council outsources the administration of the scheme to a company in Northampton. At the very least the administration of the scheme must be transparent and fair.”
Darren Richardson, the council’s director of city and environmental services, said the restriction was not to generate money but to reduce traffic, to enhance the city-centre.
He said the trial would help the council decide whether the restrictions should be abandoned, extended or made permanent. He said the signage was comprehensive and compliant with Department for Transport guidance, and informed drivers of the restriction timings and the use of camera enforcement.
There are more than 65 signs, including AA advisory signs on the Inner Ring Road and key routes into the city centre.
Mr Richardson added: “Following feedback from the public consultation the council has installed more signage directly in the Lendal Bridge area. Also following further feedback from visitors, the council has installed ‘Lendal Bridge’ signs adjacent to the bridge itself so we all know where the bridge is.”
The council also launched an online journey planner at www.itravelyork.info and published a map of existing signs at www.york.gov.uk/citycentreimprovements
The restrictions ban private traffic on the bridge between 10.30am and 5pm daily.
- A council spokeswoman said that while approximately £1.3million was the total income generated to-date the council was projecting a net income, at the end of the trial, of £700k.
"The £700k net revenue is based on analysing trends so far and an assumed continuation of this, with processing costs, set up costs and council monitoring costs taken into account. We are monitoring the trial as it progresses and forecasts suggest we will see a reduction in PCNs issued going forwards. This is ringfenced for Highways and Transport."
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