OPINION

Council caught treating drivers in Brighton as cash cows

Posted On 18 Nov 2021 at 3:03 pm

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.

Councillor Robert Nemeth by one of the “bus gates”

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.

  1. Alice J Reply

    Just because something is lawful, it doesn’t make it morally or ethically right. The Greens and Labour Councillors who voted for this ought to take a long, hard look at themselves. They deserve no respect.

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    9600+ fines in a month is an utter scandal, can as a Bus Gate with that many cars entering it – the scheme is a failure. Shame on every Labour and Green Councilor who voted this through. why were there figures not available before the meeting? Why was the decision not deffered when they came to light. A really poor piece of local democracy.

  3. John Reply

    I don’t understand why Councillor Nemeth has to wait until a committee meeting and deal with every situation by contacting the local media.
    You can read about this issue back in June where it was reported in the Independent about Bus gates and appeals upheld. Council traffic officers said the same thing as they’re saying now. The signage is legal.

    • Mark Reply

      As Alice says, just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right. Presumable the Councillor waited until the Committee meeting because that’s when the Committee is supposed to be given the relevant facts about a subject for decision. I gather some of the appeal decisions criticized the confusing signage.

  4. David Haskell Reply

    “The reality is that these council measures are revenue raising by stealth” Thoroughly shameful that you make such an accusation with no evidence to support it. You choose to ignore that attempts by individuals to appeal these fines have failed due to signage being adequate.

    Could it possibly be that there are that many inconsiderate incompetent drivers who believe the rules don’t apply to them? Everywhere you look in Brighton you see illegal parking.

  5. Adam Caa as mpbell Reply

    And you wonder why people like me are leaving,

  6. Derek Wright Reply

    The more publicity the better

  7. Rostrum Reply

    It needs someone to say “stuff you I’m not paying”
    and see the fallout that come about when it hits the national news..

  8. Dave Reply

    If it makes my yearly parking cheaper, I couldn’t care less. Everyone knows you can’t drive down there. It’s signposted with no less than 3 signs. If people are to busy texting at the wheel, not paying attention to the road and to selfish to understand they are not a bus then tbh boohoo cry me a river. I’ve seen people ragging it down the Lewes road bus lane swerving in and out of where the cameras are, so it doesn’t surprise me some people get upset that they actually get caught.
    I just wish the money was spent on building a purpose built park and ride with a rail connection by the motor way, alas it will be wasted on active travel plans and closing roads around schools… Aka p’d up the wall

  9. Sam Hunter Reply

    Why do car drivers think they are above the law?

    Speeding; illegally parking; lenient sentences for killing… all on top of destroying the planet.

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