Drivers fighting fines from Preston’s controversial Fishergate bus lanes have forced a landmark appeal hearing in the city next month.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal has been swamped with so many complaints from motorists since November that it has taken the rare decision to hear a handful of test cases at a local hotel which could then determine the outcome of hundreds of others.
The independent body will also pay a site visit to Fishergate to look at the bus lane signs which many have condemned as inadequate and confusing. The move comes after a storm of protest about the traffic restrictions which were brought in by Lancashire County Council pre-Christmas to help uncork Preston’s biggest bottleneck.
It is the latest twist in a saga which refuses to go away for highways chiefs at County Hall. One motorists, who appealed to the tribunal, was told that because of the “large number” of appeals received, a small number of cases would be heard on February 22 at the Legacy International Hotel in Preston.
A site visit, both on foot and in a vehicle, will also be held to see the relevant signing.
“The adjudicator will then decide the appeals in those cases and that decision may be relevant to the other appeals which have been made,” said the statement.
“The tribunal will therefore put your case on hold until after the decision in these cases when the adjudicator will decide how your appeal should proceed.”
Daniel Herbert, LCC highway network manager said: “We have submitted our evidence and we are attending the appeal hearings to provide any additional information to the adjudicator that they request. We maintain that these changes were in accordance with legal requirements.”
SAGA SO FAR
Preston’s new bus lanes were unveiled on October 31 in an desperate attempt to end the congestion on Fishergate which was bringing the city centre to a standstill.
For two weeks drivers flouting the restrictions were only sent a warning letter. But tickets, costing £60 (or £30 if paid within 14 days) started dropping through letterboxes midway through November.
More than 8,000 were issued in the first week and furious motorists bombarded LCC with complaints claiming the road signs were inadequate or confusing. The AA even branded the new layout as “a trap,” saying a longer grace period should have been given.