By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
A man has won his fight against a £130 fine for accidentally driving in a bus lane that has netted a South London council £6 million.
Richard Newell, 36, successfully argued that signs warning drivers not to turn left in the bus lane in Clapham Park Road were unclear.
Mr Newell drove into the bus lane in March 2022 while taking his mum home. He said he was confused by an arrow painted on the road surface, which appeared to suggest motorists should use the bus lane to turn left at the junction.
It was only after he had pulled into the lane that he became aware of a blue sign indicating the stretch of road was reserved for buses, taxis and cyclists only.
Despite quickly reversing back out and taking the junction on the correct side of the road, he was snapped by a traffic camera.
Mr Newell, a patent attorney, received a Lambeth council fine at his house in Peckham a week later. Initially he intended to pay, but after searching online he realised he was one of thousands of people who had been caught out in the same spot
Mr Newell appealed the fine but the council rejected his claim, along with two further two complaints.
Undeterred, Mr Newell took his case to the Traffic Adjudicator – a body which rules on parking fines issued by London councils – in August. The tribunal accepted his complaint and quashed his fine – agreeing with him that the signs were confusing.
He said: “A £130 fine is a pain, but it was never about the money. I just felt it was a trap and I was sure other people were getting caught in it too.
“It will be brilliant if people can get their fines overturned by citing my decision. Hopefully the council will put up a clear sign now. Ultimately, I want them to give the £6 million back to the people who’ve been fined.”
Adjudicator Andrew Harman described the junction at Clapham Park Road as “very unusual.”
His decision from August 24 reads: “I agree with the appellant that there should be an additional sign posted at the junction warning motorists that they should not use this section of bus lane to turn left.
“I find signage to be inadequate and I am accordingly satisfied that the contravention has not been proved.”
Lambeth Council, which raked in £2.9 million from bus lane fines in 2019 – the highest amount in London: “Bus lanes are clearly marked and comply with all regulations and standards. We regularly check our signs and road markings where we enforce using CCTV to ensure we are compliant.”
Pictured top: Richard Newell next to the notorious Clapham Park Road bus lane (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)