More than 8,000 fines totting up to £500,000 have been issued to drivers flouting new Fishergate rules in a just one week.
Lancashire County Council has doled out 7,269 £60 fines to motorists who have persisted in driving along Fishergate between Mount Street and Corporation Street in Preston, during prohibited times between 11am and 6pm.
County Hall has also sent an additional 795 £60 fines to people caught on camera illegally turning right at the top of Butler Street.
If all fines are paid at £60, the total income to the authority would be £483,840, but if the fines are paid within 14 days the sum drops to £30 - making a £241,920 haul.
The penalties come after a fortnight’s grace period, following the introduction of the rules, came to an end.
The council says “our aim is to help motorists and pedestrians to get around the city”, but angry motorists claim signs are inadequate and the authority is targeting drivers in a “money-making scam”.
Fifty-year-old Colin Nugent from Plungington, Preston, is so annoyed at being given a £60 fine last week, he will be protesting in Fishergate this afternoon.
From noon until around 2pm, he will stand at the junction of Fishergate and Mount Street with a handmade No Entry sign, claiming what the council have put in place is insufficient.
He said: “I’m going to stand at the entrance to the bus lane with my sign and two buckets – one for Children In Need and one saying Council In Need.
“I’m hoping to save people a £60 fine by driving down there, and people can decide whether they want to donate to Children in Need rather than the council.
“I think it’s totally wrong, the amount of fines sent out already is unbelievable.
“I like thousands of others was unaware of the new bus lane.
“I’ve been taking the same route for 30 years, and really didn’t know anything about the change and didn’t notice the sign.
Gary Robinson, from Cottam, has been fined three times for driving down Fishergate after going into the city centre for Christmas shopping.
He said he didn’t see the sign at the top of Mount Street, claiming it was obscured by a tree. He said: “I don’t go into town a lot, but when I do I always park at St George’s car park and then drive down Fishergate to get home because it’s the natural thing to do.
“I went twice last week and didn’t see the sign, and then once again on Tuesday. When I got the first fine I realised I’d been down there twice more without realising.
“I went back to look at the signage and there’s only one sign at the point of no return, and it’s behind a tree.
“So if you don’t see it or make a mistake, it’s too late.
“It’s a money-making scam, it’s disgusting.
“They are using motorists to pay for the roadworks.”
Although the road changes came into force on Monday, October 31, the penalty charges have been issued from Monday, November 14, and figures given are to November 22, with hundreds more being caught out each day.
As of Tuesday, November 22, 1,387 fines had been paid, equating to £41,610.
One driver from Whitestake who was fined last week but who asked not to be named, said: “I was totally unaware of it, just didn’t see the signs.
“I was in a long line of traffic going through, so the council must be making a lot of money on this. It’s a disgrace.”
Commenting on the changes in general, County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our aim is to help motorists and pedestrians to get around the city centre. We introduced these changes to stop traffic building up in certain parts of the city, at the busiest times.
“Some of the recent changes have gone well, improving the situation by helping people to get around the city centre. For example, the number of people turning right at the top of Butler Street has reduced significantly since these recent changes were brought in, and we’re hopeful that this number will reduce even further.
“Our engineers are looking to tweak the sequence on the traffic signals, near the prison and The Range, to see if this will help.
“We’ve also added more signs around the city, including through Avenham to help people based on where they’re going.
“Highways staff have been keeping an eye on the changes and we will continue to monitor the situation.
He added: “We definitely don’t want to issue any £60 Penalty Charge Notices, but it’s an important way for us to enforce these changes.
The aim is to help to reduce traffic build-up that has affected the city centre at the busiest times.
“During the first two weeks of these changes we chose to give warnings to drivers, rather than a £60 penalty.”
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