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Outrage over festive lane fines when no buses were running

MOTORISTS fined for driving in bus lanes in Glasgow on Christmas Day and New Year's Day have criticised the city council as it emerged that both Edinburgh and Aberdeen switched off their cameras on those days.

APPEAL: Retired GP Malcolm MacRae is taking his fight against the fines to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service in Edinburgh. Picture: Tracey Coutts
APPEAL: Retired GP Malcolm MacRae is taking his fight against the fines to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service in Edinburgh. Picture: Tracey Coutts

Glasgow City Council looks set to rake in up to £50,000 from the festive period, more than ten times as much as the capital, where bus lane enforcement was only carried out on January 2.

No buses were running in ­Glasgow on Christmas Day, with only the airport shuttle operating on New Year's Day. Scaled down Sunday services were run by First, Stagecoach and McGill's on Boxing Day and January 2.

Figures reveal 815 motorists in Glasgow were photographed ­driving in bus lanes on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and January 2, compared to just 78 in Edinburgh.

In Aberdeen, where cameras were live on Boxing Day and January 2,449 drivers were fined.

Motorists caught out by the cameras have the option of paying a £30 penalty within 14 days, or £60 if they take more than two weeks to pay up.

It means Glasgow City Council is facing a festive windfall of up to £48,900, compared to £4680 in Edinburgh and £26,940 in Aberdeen.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motoring, said it was an own goal for council bosses.

He said: "The technology is smart enough that you can programme it to switch off at certain times, such as when you know there's going to be hardly any traffic. It's a no brainer.

"When the council is already accused of using bus lanes as a revenue raising device, this is an own goal which could easily have been avoided."

Luke Bosdet, spokesman for the AA, said the situation was beyond belief.

He said: "It's unbelievable that they were fining people when buses weren't running. Absolutely ridiculous. They're picking up drivers on an industrial scale for often minor mistakes.

"Fair enough if it's someone roaring up a bus lane to get past queues of traffic, but fining people at Christmas when there's no buses running? It just completely proves the whole thing is a scam."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Driving in bus lanes outwith permitted hours is an offence. Given that roads are quieter on Christmas and New Year's Day, there is no reason for anyone to choose to drive in a bus lane.

"The number of offences is ­falling which shows that the cameras are working."

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council said it would review its policy annually but had taken the decision to deactivate its eight cameras on Christmas Day and New Year's Day due to "the extremely low volumes of traffic in the city during peak times on these days".

Like Glasgow, there were no buses on Christmas and New Year's Day, with limited services on Boxing Day and January 2.

In Edinburgh, First Scotland East and Lothian Buses continued to run a reduced timetable on all four days, while Lothian operated the airport shuttle on Christmas Day. However, Edinburgh City Council axed bus lane penalties.

A spokeswoman said: "To ensure that drivers in Edinburgh are treated consistently, bus lane restrictions are not enforced by the Council on parking holidays.

"Cameras are not disabled on the days in question but ­contraventions are not logged or processed."

The figures also reveal fine hotspots. A single bus lane camera located outside Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow - one of 15 in the city - accounted for 27% of all fines.

In Edinburgh, a camera located near Hibernian's Easter Road stadium was responsible for 32% of the penalty notices issued on January 2.

Case study

MALCOLM MacRae was one of the 239 Glasgow drivers caught driving in a bus lane on a New Year's Day. In fact, the retired GP was hit with not one, but two, £30 fines after getting lost on his way home from a New Year's Day dinner.

"I was on the way back from Chinatown in the Cowcaddens area when I got a bit lost and ended up going up the Maryhill Road, which is a 24-hour bus lane apparently.

"Then I got back down onto Great Western Road and got caught by the one of the cameras outside Gartnavel hospital, at Shelley Road."

The 64-year-old from Dumbarton appealed both fines on the grounds that no buses were running that day, but both appeals have been rejected.

"The council's take on it is that they're just 'sticking to the regulations'. They're ignoring the fact that there weren't actually any buses on the road," said Dr MacRae, who admits that he does not drive in Glasgow very often and never wants to again after the confusing experience on January 1.

"It's not just that there weren't any buses either: there were no cyclists when we were on the road on New Year's Day either. I never saw any cyclists. There were some taxis about but I didn't actually see them using the bus lanes.

"And there were very few taxis anyway, partly because there's no public transport. The Subway was shut, the bus stations were closed, there were no main line trains: there was nowhere for taxis to pick people up from."

Having refused to pay his fines within the 14-day cut-off, Dr MacRae now faces paying £60 for each. However, he is now taking his fight to the capital in a bid to have them overturned by the Scottish Parking Appeals Service in Edinburgh.

If successful, his case could open the floodgates for hundreds more motorists to claw back festive fines.

Dr MacRae said: "There is a more sensible attitude [in Edinburgh and Aberdeen]. If bus services are suspended, bus lanes should be suspended.

"I'm going to put that in my letter to SPAS because it emphasises just how unreasonable Glasgow is.

"I wouldn't be in a bus lane if there were buses about.

"The bottom line is, should bus lanes be enforced when there are no buses on the roads? Edinburgh and Aberdeen realise that it's unreasonable to do so, so why doesn't Glasgow?"

Contextual targeting label: 
Automotive

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