Leading councillors rejected a second attempt to refund fines issued to drivers entering Brighton’s newest bus lanes.
Conservative councillor Alistair McNair called asked for a report on redesigns for the four short bus lanes, known as bus gates, in the revamped Valley Gardens.
They have proved controversial, with thousands of drivers passing through them and incurring fines since the start of last year.
Councillor McNair also asked Brighton and Hove City Council to refund the fines which total more than £2 million.
In one month alone, last October, more than 9,600 drivers were sent £60 tickets– reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
At the council’s Policy and Resource Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (24 March), councillors were told that fines were down by 53 per cent in February, compared with the October peak.
The Conservative motion followed a similar attempt when the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee met on Tuesday 15 March.
Councillor McNair said: “Tens of thousands of residents and visitors have now fallen foul of the bus gate shakedown.
“Bad signage remains in place despite assurances that it would be fixed. Access still looks inviting despite a plethora of signs and markings now in place.
“Turning is still counter-intuitive as the road looks nothing like a bus lane and randomly turning left seems odd.”
In January, the council’s head of transport Mark Prior said that the signs along Valley Gardens went “above and beyond” the legal requirements.
But the council ordered more signs to help drivers unfamiliar with the changed layout.
Conservative leader Steve Bell said that he was not opposed to bus gates or bus lanes because they encouraged people to use public transport.
He said that the council should have taken action as soon as it became clear that thousands of people were passing through the bus gates.
Councillor Bell said: “These people aren’t just ignoring it and driving through it. They cannot see the changes to the signs.
“We have a duty of care to our residents and our visitors to make sure what was there, minimum as it may have been, and compliant as it may have been, was not fit for purpose and obviously created a problem for many people.”
Green councillor David Gibson said that traffic tribunals had refunded no fines based on the signs and the council had not been ordered to make any changes.
He said: “It seems to me rather bizarre that we should now be asked not to implement the fines on motorists who have contravened the regulations.
“I’m a little bit surprised the party of law and order is suggesting we should have law and order for some people but not for others.”
Green councillor Tom Druitt, the boss of the Big Lemon bus company, said that drivers passing through the bus gates into London Road delayed bus services and made them less attractive to passengers.
Labour councillor Amanda Evans said that the Conservatives were “playing to the crowd” in asking for refunds.
She said: “How they have the front to talk about squeezed taxpayers when it’s their government doing the squeezing is beyond me and wasting more council time and resources already cut to the bone on an issue already covered elsewhere in the council.
“The signage is already being addressed. The bus gates are necessary to improve the speed and efficiency of our public transport routes.”