The Conservatives have caught Brighton and Hove City Council treating unsuspecting drivers as cash cows.
Our questions about the new “bus gates” – or bus lanes – in the revamped Valley Gardens brought to light the extraordinary number of fines being dished out to drivers.
An astonishing 9,618 tickets were issued last month alone – that’s 310 a day or one every two minutes at peak times – and this was down on the figure for August.
At £60 a fine, the financial cost of the tickets issued last month alone totalled more than £577,000 – or, if paid promptly, more than £288,000 at £30 a time.
It will, of course, be much harder to calculate the cost to tourism and other businesses if those who feel they were unfairly caught out choose in future to avoid Brighton.
Drivers were caught after four cameras were installed under two “experimental” traffic orders that were made under Labour last year.
On Tuesday (16 November) members of the council’s Green-led Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee were asked to agree to make the present set up permanent.
And although the huge number of fines suggests at best a degree of confusion, Labour and the Greens accepted that there was cause for concern yet voted to make the experiment permanent.
Members spoke about confusing signage and terminology as well as asking valid questions about “sat nav” directions – but only the Conservatives voted against fleecing drivers who seem confused more than anything.
The four cameras can be used to keep dishing out fines that members appeared to accept may well be unfair – in Marlborough Place, St George’s Place, St Peter’s Place and York Place.
One camera alone issued 5,400 tickets in just one month.
The reality is that these council measures are revenue raising by stealth and should not have been supported by Labour and the Greens.
The fact that one person is being fined every two minutes at these bus gates is extraordinary. My jaw dropped when I heard the figures.
It is clear that the council is cashing in on confusion – of its own making – and hurting our city’s economy.
But what is worse is that Labour and the Greens should vote to prolong the problem and punish drivers unfairly without fixing the mess.
In their rush to declare a “car-free city centre”, Labour and the Greens don’t seem to care how much they hurt the residents, businesses, workers and visitors who keep our city running.
Councillor Robert Nemeth speaks for the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
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