Have you been caught out with a £30 fine in Chelmsford?
PUBLISHED: 15:28 12 February 2019
Our columnist got stung for unwittingly driving in a bus lane- and she’s not alone.
It had been a long time since I drove in Chelmsford, probably 20 years. On that occasion I was reporting the Crown Court case of a man accused of killing his wife and burying her under the patio.
I seem to remember I parked near the court and not too far from M&S - where I would buy my lunchtime sandwich.
This time I was heading into the city to interview a dance troupe known collectively and a little saucily as Dreamboys. All I had to do was find somewhere near the theatre to park. As is so often the case with Satnav, I could drive past the venue - it was on my right hand side - but the car park had to be accessed from behind the Civic Theatre. Unfamiliar with the roads, the obvious thing to do seemed to be to carry on and take the first right turn. I did and ended up in the bus station.
I turned around and went back and then, after a disastrous attempt to follow my instinct, ended up travelling the same road again. This time, I did not turn right into the bus station but continued straight on - unaware that I would drive straight into a bus lane.
But at least I managed to find the car park, persuade a kindly car park attendant to let me park in the cordoned off section and get to the theatre in time to talk to the Dreamboys unoiled.
A few days later an ominous-looking brown window-envelope dropped through the letter box. It contained a picture of my car in the bus lane together with notice of a £30 fine if I paid promptly. The amount would double if I left it too long.
“You should appeal,” said my husband, affronted on my behalf.
I agreed, I should have appealed but I couldn’t face the paperwork so I paid up with a bad grace and vowed not to go to Chelmsford ever again - even though the city has a great shopping centre.
This was last autumn and since then I have become aware of the how the bus lane has become a nifty little earner. Especially in light of the fact that just one fine has been upheld when the driver went to tribunal.
In December it was reported that Essex County Council has received more than £1.5m from 43,864 penalty charge notices (PCN) for the misuse of the Duke Street bus gate in Chelmsford, since cameras were installed in 2017. In all, 139 cases which went to tribunal after the council rejected appeals, a single fine was upheld.
An Essex County Council spokeswoman said the bus gate stopped cars using the city centre as a ‘rat-run’. Which is fine if you’re a rat and know which way to run.
Have you been fined for accidentally using this road? Write to me.