Council issues 5k warning notices over new Valley Gardens bus gate in first month

Posted On 26 Oct 2020 at 2:30 pm

Motorists have been sent almost 5,000 warning notices for driving through a Valley Gardens bus gate in its first month of operation – and fines are due to start being issued tomorrow.

Bus gates are short stretches of road which only buses are allowed to drive over, marked out with paint on the road – but it appears not all drivers are aware of this.

From when the cameras were turned on on 9 September until 13 October, Brighton and Hove City Council sent out 4,972 warning notices to drivers who passed through the gate in York Place, on the western carriageway at the junction with Trafalgar Street.

Drivers at the bottom of North Road are told they can turn left if they are local traffic, but this means specifically traffic taking the next left turn into Gloucester Street to access the North Laine.

Those who carry on into York Place were sent a warning notice. Car drivers travelling south were also sent a warning if they didn’t turn into Trafalgar Street.

Another 1,993 notices were sent to motorists caught on bus lane cameras at St George’s Place, Gloucester Place and two on St Peter’s Place in the same time period.

The unclear signage was raised when the scheme first went live in August, when the road markings were even more confusing.

After that, some of the markings were changed and a new sign put up – but anecdotally, it seems that many are still not clear where they are meant to be driving.

In its October newsletter, Brighton Area Buswatch, which represents bus users, said: “Last month, Buswatch News highlighted the poor signing in North Road, Marlborough Place and York Place.

“This was leading to high numbers of private cars using the west side of Valley Gardens which is supposed to be restricted to buses, taxis and access vehicles.

“Since then, some improvements have been made in North Road; the incorrect road markings have been altered and a new road sign has been erected.

“This has encouraged more cars to use the east side although compliance is still not good, especially at weekends when many visitors seem unaware of the new layout and continue to ignore ‘bus gate’ signs.

“The vague and unhelpful ‘local traffic’ description continues to cause confusion. If lots of cars go this way, Google maps and Sat Nav systems will pick up the flow and show it, giving the impression it is an acceptable route.”

  1. Mark Strong Reply

    It’s not unclear at all as long as you know your Highway Code – but many drivers who passed their test years ago don’t keep up to date (it’s the biggest selling book in the UK & possibly the least read!).

    A blue sign with a picture/word on it showing a type of transport means ONLY that type can pass the sign. The sign in the photo has a bike, bus & taxi so here they’re the only vehicles allowed past. In some places there might be an extra sign underneath with exemptions (eg access only) but if it’s not there, there’s no exceptions.

    By the way, the road marking “BUS GATE” is a nationally defined sign and the council can’t choose to change it. So UK based drivers visiting Brighton should have the same level of knowledge as local drivers.

    What is possibly an issue is advance warning to drivers letting them know that there’s a restriction ahead, so they don’t get to a point where they have to make an unexpected turn. Which is exactly why the council allowed a month’s grace where they only sent out warnings, and published plans like the one in your article.

    • bill Reply

      I agree, and it’s only unclear IF the road is not full of nose to tail traffic potentially obscuring a ‘BUS GATE’ sign painted on the road, and a couple of blue signs on lamp posts!

      Make it much, much clearer in the approach with multiple signs on both road and sign posts, could even change the colour of the tarmac to make it crystal clear then, and there is no excuse for even out-of-towners!

    • Brighton Area Buswatch Reply

      I agree with Mark regarding bus gates, people have a responsibility to know the Highway Code and there are other examples around the country. It is the lack of clarity with the ‘local Traffic’ direction signs at the bottom of North Road that I referred to in Buswatch News. These are unhelpful and vague. People unfamiliar with the current road layout maybe used to turning left here and there’s no bus gate warning so they turn left and find themselves at the Trafalgar Street junction where they have to take a quick decision to go either through the bus gate or turn left into Trafalgar Street. I’ve seen lots of cars hesitate here, often with a bus right behind which can be intimidating. It is also apparent that that more cars tend to use the west side during fine weather and at weekends suggesting these are visitors. If the left turning signs in North Road directed cars to ‘Trafalgar Street Only’ or something similar, it would be much clearer and only those who know the layout and deliberately drive through the bus gate would get a fine.

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The phrase “BUS GATE” on the road is a new one on me. I should think that it does not mean anything to many people. As the wise Mark Strong says, earlier warning signs would be an idea.

  3. Argusnot Reply

    Why not a ‘Buses Only’ sign? Once again, someone has been allowed to over complicate something that is really very simple, and road users will pay the price.

    • Moira Reply

      8th of October 2021 just got a ticket. I was driving a friend to Brighton Station on a rainy evening after an event in Brighton – probably haven’t driven this way since before Covid and all the road works. Had to drive from work as had to be in Brighton for 4pm
      – seriously stung by car parking charges at Churchill Square. An expensive trip into Brighton.

  4. Anthony Mercer Reply

    Try being a delivery driver. There are loading only bays 2 in total but you have to contend with private hire/ uber cabs sit on the loading bays. Who do the council target DELIVERY DRIVERS trying to do there jobs

  5. keith Reply

    Cyclists are permitted on the pavement with a sharing scheme and on the road. I don’t feel thry should be on the road as they don’t know they should stop for a crossing.

  6. Grae Reply

    A few days a week I deliver food to a shop on York Place, where there’s a dedicated loading bay. How do I get to that bay if I’m not allowed to drive either North or South on York Place.

    • Ian Tommins Reply

      Assuming you mean the stretch north of Trafalgar street (with shops including Hisbe), then you would follow the blue line on the map in the article:
      – Start from St Peter’s Place
      – Head down York Place and make your delivery
      – Exit via Trafalgar Street

  7. Greens out Reply

    Yet another example, not that any more are really needed, of the blithering incompetence shown by this shambolic council.

  8. Peter Challis Reply

    It would be interesting to see how the markings for “bus gates” conform to the Traffic Signs Manual –

    Several suggestions included such as “If a bus gate is placed on a road that was previously a signed route or was used by significant through traffic, consideration should be given to providing or changing directional signing to guide prohibited traffic to use the preferred alternative route”…

  9. steve Reply

    well i have just received a warning for gloucester place driving in the bus lane. But unless the road layout has changed, that is on the right and i was on the left. I was delivering christmas presents to my son (before the lockdown). I have always previously driven gloucester place , st georges place and york place and turned left into cheapside. Studying google (2016) and map above i assume i now have to turn left ealier into trafalgar st? Which according to official maps joins St george place not gloucester place? (as it happened there were diversion signs up, which made things even more difficult, and in cheapside i had to turn left and presumably went on to trafalgar st). I assume there is no other bus gate that i crossed. I travelled down the eastern road to go around victoria gardens. I make this journey maybe twice a year.

  10. Luke Fisher Reply

    It just seems deliberately confusing to catch motorists out.

  11. Andy Reply

    So i am a delivery driver for a pharmaceutical company.. I have to deliver to Ross pharmacy which is on York Place.. My normal and most logical route after delivering to St James St would be back down Edward St and up Marlborough Pl,Gloucester Pl to York Place… So now i have to head up Grand Parade,turn into York Place from the other end, hope there is a loading bay available (because there are normally private cars and taxis in them)!!!! Turn up Trafalgar st and loop back round over ground i’ve already covered to get back up to Oxford St to deliver there… Surely access for delivery vehicles could made easier…

  12. Chart Reply

    I’ve had two tickets in 2 weeks,as was confused as to where I could and could not travel. I was very careful and did not see a “buses only sign’ for gloucester place and when there is wet on the road the reflection from the sky makes the words on the road impossible to see. After the most horrendous few months and money worries this feels like tipping me over the edge ….

    • Adam Smith Reply

      After visiting Brighton on the 23 April for our wedding anniversary I have received a penalty notice for York Place. I must say the ‘local traffic’ sign is confusing and the signage for it is right on the turning point, which I obviously missed on both counts!! Why not give earlier and clearer warning signage like ‘through traffic turn left as Bus Gate ahead’, but the council wont make any money out of it if they do so they won’t make any changes. Yours disappointed of Bexleyheath.

  13. Nick Reply

    I got fined at Gloucester place. Time 21:00. 10/05/21
    Greedy and rotten council of Brighton and Hove. Thei’r presence is onloy for collecting money by force and threat with tricky ways. Worst place ever to live in England.
    And you can’t beat them! Their organised mafia croocks. If I take them to court, the court is them!
    Shovel the fines in their ass!
    I don’t trust them on anything. The are the thieves!

  14. Nick Reply

    I got fined at Gloucester place. One of the many council traps for collecting money by force from the citizens.
    Time 21:00. 10/05/21. There is no clear indication about the restriction. When I figured out my mistake I couldn’t go back.
    Greedy and rotten council of Brighton and Hove. Their presence is only for collecting money by force and by threat with the use of tricky ways. Worst place ever to live in England.
    And you can’t beat them! They are organised mafia croocks.
    I can’t take them to court,because the court is them!
    Shovel the fines in their ass!
    900,000 citizens live in this prison named Brightion and Hove, and the comments in this website are only 16 in number. Too much democracy…

  15. Hove Man Reply

    It is hard to tell how much is due to the brainless incompetence of the Coucil, or to their utter deviousnes in persecuting anyone driving a car, in order to fill their coffers. Whatever they lay their grimy hands on becomes a total disaster. The chaos they are continuing to perpetuate is almost beyond belief.

  16. Caoyv Reply

    I got fined at Gloucester place on 25/04/21 too, at 20:00. I went there for the funfair as it was my daughter’s birthday.

    I had no idea how I violated the bus lane rule until I got the notice yesterday. Even now I still can’t recall any bus lane sign at that place. I just drove as what I normally do in that area. I’ve never been caught for bus lane violation in past 14 years.

    It feels that the council just making a trap and collect money. Shame on them.

  17. Dave Reply

    My wife has been caught out by this money-spinning wheeze by Brighton Council. Having not been to Brighton during lockdown in her car, she followed the route up from Palace Pier that has been in place for at least 20 years. The signage is still not clear giving no option to correct yourself even if you do suss the changes at the last minute. We will not be spending anymore money in a city that obviously treats drivers with contempt. Well done Brighton council. Oh and I should mention that my wife has MS and is registered disabled so using a car is her only practical option.

    • Carters Reply

      Same happened to me – no more Brighton spending for us. Also have to use a disabled badge. Shamefully deceptive sineage. Haven’t we all been through enough without this rotten council shafting us any which way it can?

  18. Michael Wade Reply

    Just received our ticket today, pretty annoyed as Brighton has always been a favourite place of ours to visit and spend our hard earned cash. Our first visit there since lockdown eased and we were unaware this had changed during lockdown, we were pretty blasé about our route and inadvertently entered the bus gate which had previously been our usual route out of the city. I would love to know how many are being caught out this way. I think we’ll shop elsewhere from now on.

  19. Lorna McQuillan Reply

    My husband who is a very responsible person just received letter from a Debt collection agency. He only found out he had driven on a bus lane along Gloucester place in February, and it is now July!!! He didn’t receive any letter from the council at all and now being threatened with bailiffs!!! Who ever is running this scam, I hope karma gets back to you.

  20. Hove Man Reply

    Let us hope that all the incompetence and utter greed of this sickening council will be remembered when election time comes around. They continue to turn the city (bit iof laugh that!) into one ugly, expensive, unwelcoming dump. Everything they lay their grimy hands on becomes a disaster for residents and visitors alike.

  21. Rache Reply

    So we got caught out by this change. We don’t go to Brighton often, and this change is so poorly signposted. Has anyone won an appeal or is it not worth appealing?

  22. Kevin Reply

    Congrats to Brighton and Hove city council for being the most professional bandits I have encountered in 30 years of otherwise trouble free driving. Have paid my fine but your city will now not benefit from the spending that I or my family was planning on this summer as this has left a bad taste in our mouths.

  23. Mrs Lesley Marshall Reply

    I was visiting Brighton on 14/8/21 and have been issued a PCN for apparently entering this bus gate however the route us the main A23 to London ! I’m at a complete loss as to where the signage is to inform of no access! Can anyone advise where this starts ! I left the theatre car park turned left into Church St then right onto Spring Gardens then right onto North Road joining Gloucester Place as I have for years to follow A23 to London. Can anyone pls advise

    • MD Reply

      When you entered Gloucester Place, you did not obey the “Local Traffic” sign. You then passed a blue specified vehicles only sign at the bottom of Trafalgar Street instead of turning left into Trafalgar Street.

  24. HLR Reply

    I fell foul of this new road layout. First time I have driven into Brighton, and the road layouts are incredibly confusing, but add heavy traffic, buses directly in front of me blocking the view of street signs and even though I tried my best to follow the Sat Nav instructions, I made a wrong turn and ended up in the bus lane. What does fining first time visitors achieve, Brighton & Hove Council? It doesn’t reduce traffic, it doesn’t reduce pollution, it just fills the council’s coffers at the expense of unsuspecting tourists / business travellers. Wouldn’t it be better to let first-time offenders off with a caution and advice where they went wrong? I still have no idea at what point I made the wrong turn. Sat Nav may even have instructed me to go that way!

  25. Karen Friel Reply

    2nd October 21, Marlborough Place…I must agree with a lot of what is being said, I had not been in Brighton for well over 2 years and not at night.
    I have never heard of a bus gate, and I was following my sat nav. I have paid the £30 today but I do agree this needs to be a lot clearer.

  26. Brigitte Jones Reply

    I too agree with Karen Friel having not been too Brighton for many years I had no knowledge of these Bus gates today I receive a penalty notice my carer was driving me enroute too Brighton hospital for surgery we went along with everybody else I note on the photograph had he not carried on or gone right he would have been faced with cars driving towards him this certaintly isn’t just and fair this realy now needs too be clearer as more people now since joining up other south coast hospitals will be coming too Brighton too no doubt fall foul on what isn’t known with poor warning too drivers I rather resent this as a disabled person not too have known

  27. Ricky Spiller Reply

    Only go to Brighton to visit my son twice a year .had no idea what a bus gate was and just followed traffic .It was too late to turn safely so had no choice but to go straight on ..

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