Author Topic: Edinburgh urged to hand back fines after audit says signs could be misleading  (Read 515 times)

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Edinburgh Corstorphine traffic: Council urged to hand back fines after audit says signs could be misleading

Controversial low traffic neighbourhood at centre of new row after expert audit warned signs could be misleading

By Ian Swanson
Published 19th Jan 2024, 14:54 GMT

The Manse Road bus gate - an official audit concluded signs could be misleading.

Campaigners against an Edinburgh traffic scheme are calling on the city council to hand back thousands of pounds in fines to people who were penalised for driving through a "bus gate".

The demand comes after an official road safety audit concluded that signs informing motorists of what has been the most contentious element of the Corstorphine low traffic neighbourhood could be misleading.

The Manse Road bus gate, which bans cars from entering a section of road at the junction with St John's Road at peak periods, has been the biggest source of controversy since the scheme, known as Corstorphine Connections, was introduced in May last year.

A CCTV camera to enforce the bus gate generated nearly £100,000 worth of fines in just its first two months of operation.

But now campaign group Accessible Corstorphine for Everyone (ACE), has used Freedom of Information laws to get hold of a road safety audit report by experts from transport consultants Atkins, which criticised the signage leading to the Manse Road bus gate.

It said: "Advanced signs for the bus gate are potentially unclear and may mislead drivers to continue towards the bus gate at times of operation, resulting in the need for three-point turns across live traffic."

It noted the signs referred to a "bus lane" rather than a "bus gate" and that other bus lanes in the area were accompanied by a lane where all vehicles were permitted and so did not prevent through traffic.

"The erected signs could therefore misinform drivers of the restrictions and result in unpermitted use, frustration and higher speeds on local roads.”

ACE chair Jackie Connor said the audit findings contradicted a letter which was sent rejecting an appeal against a bus gate fine. The letter claimed: "The bus gate has ample signs and road markings to inform drivers in advance of the restrictions, on approach and at the bus gate itself to make drivers aware of the new regulations”.

And Ms Connor said the audit's conclusions also went against comments by transport convener Scott Arthur, who told the Evening News and posted on social media: “If you stand in front of the junction it's very clear it's a bus gate, it's very clear its one way and it's very clear what the hours of operation are. You can't miss it. It's painted on the road in quite large letters."

The council says that, following the audit report, it amended the signage for the Manse Road bus gate on October 25. But Ms Connor said: "Substantial fines had already been collected by that date from motorists who had fallen victim to the perplexing signage prior to the update.

"The council should promptly annul all fines issued prior to the signage change on October 25 and extend apologies to those who were unfairly penalised."

The council maintains that despite the audit report conclusions, the signs met all the legal requirements and there is therefor no obligation to refund the fines.

But Ms Connor said: "We can have a legal argument about it and how the fines were legal, but from a moral point of view, and given the number of people who feel they have been ignored about all this, I think they need to give the money back.

"People feel let down by the council already - and this just feels like another slap in the face, the council just doing what they want and not caring what anybody else thinks.

"The number of fines for the first two months worked out at one fine very three minutes during the time the bus gate operates - I think that says in itself that it's confusing."

Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “While we appreciate the conclusions of the road safety audit, prior to the audit we had all the signs required for a bus gate in place as well as additional advance information signs, consistent with other bus gates in Edinburgh.

“However, in response to the feedback provided in the audit we have further enhanced to the signage to help make the information even clearer to drivers. Indeed, I am sure most Evening News readers viewing images of it would find the bus gate to be perfectly visible.

“I have been assured that the bus gate contraventions have been assessed against the audit, and have been found to be valid. Indeed, I understand the appeal process has support this judgement.

“I accept that although recent research shows that 49 per cent of people living in the area support the scheme, there is still a minority who have concerns about the trial road safety measures. Within that context, I hope to attend Corstorphine Community Council next week to listen to feedback on how the scheme could be improved.”


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