Stockport bus lane fines reach almost £1 million in eight months

Cameras are in place with £60 fines being issued to anyone caught passing along Heaton Road in Stockport. Credit: MEN Media

A council has made almost £1 million in fines in just eight months from a town centre bus lane.

General traffic was banned from the road in Stockport in February 2022, with only buses, cyclists and licensed taxis the only vehicles allowed through.

Cameras are in place with £60 fines, reduced to £30 if paid within a fortnight, being issued to anyone caught passing through the 'bus gate' on the stretch of Heaton Lane which runs between the A6 Wellington Road North and Travis Brow.

Philip Brooks, 49, says he was caught out when his sat-nav sent him down the road from the A6.

He was so angry by the fine he then submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out how much money had been generated following the bus gate’s introduction.Mr Brooks says he was amazed to learn £896,141.50 had been paid in fines from April to December in 2022.

He has now accused the town hall of running a ‘cynical and calculated money-raising scam’ which ‘targets innocent motorists'.The council however refutes this.

It says Heaton Lane is where the town centre’s temporary bus station is, and it will also be the key route in and out of the new multi-million-pound bus interchange when it is completed, so it is essential it is kept clear of traffic.

General traffic was banned from the stretch of Heaton Lane which runs between the A6 Wellington Road North and Travis Brow last February Credit: MEN Media

A road linking Travis Brow and the A6 was also completed in 2019 providing access between the two roads and the Pyramid roundabout, it added.

Mr Brooks, from Mellor in Stockport, was on his way to work when he was caught travelling through the bus gate.He appealed based on ‘inadequate’ signage, which was rejected, and he then paid the fine.

Mr Brooks claims the signs rely on drivers, many of whom may not be from the area, knowing the name of the street and where the restrictions apply.

Instead, he believes, there should be a ‘no left turn sign’ to make the prohibition clearer.“As a driver for over 30 years and a Stockport resident all my life, I understand road signs and I know Stockport's road layouts pretty well,” he said.“Yet I didn't know where Heaton Lane was despite having used it for many years to access the M60, going to the mini-roundabout then up to the Pyramid roundabout.

One resident says - "first-time offenders should be given a warning but said there was ‘no incentive’ for the authority to improve matters" Credit: MEN Media

"I canvassed opinion with friends and acquaintances and let me assure you, none of them knew Heaton Lane.“How do the council expect the thousands of road users from outside the Stockport area, whose sat navs send them through the bus lane, to know Heaton Lane?“If they think someone from outside the Stockport area should know where Heaton Lane is, on a sign 100 yards away from the junction in question, on a dark rainy morning? The answer is 'no'.“I was later told there was a bailout on a side street to the left, but before I knew it I was already through the bus gate, as I was totally unsuspecting of any bus lane.“It is just absurd.

"An absolute nonsense.

"It's the main artery into Manchester, serving Stockport and Derbyshire.

"How could someone for example from Buxton know that Heaton Lane is situated where it is?

"This is a cynical and calculated money-raising scam and targets innocent motorists.”

Stockport Council says - "It opened the new bus gate as part of the ongoing multi-million-pound transformation of the Interchange" Credit: MEN Media

Responding to Mr Brooks' complaints, a spokesperson for Stockport Council said: “In February 2022, the council opened the new bus gate on Heaton Lane in the town centre as part of the ongoing multi-million-pound transformation of the Interchange.“Once the new Interchange has been completed, Heaton Lane, which is currently home to the temporary bus station, will continue to be an important bus access link to the new hub utilising the new bridge over the River Mersey in the town centre and it is essential we keep it clear of traffic.“This will improve route planning and access for buses and remove them from Mersey Square.

"As a result of that work, and following the completion of the Travis Brow to A6 link road, Heaton Lane has now been bypassed as a through route for town centre traffic.“The bus gate was launched on February 22, 2022, with warning letters issued to motorists before PCNs were then sent out from April 4, 2022.

"The council has installed clear signage on the A6 and on surrounding roads warning motorists that the bus gate is live.“In addition, the bus gate has been advertised on the council’s social media channels, in its weekly ‘Review Extra’ newsletter to residents and in local media outlets.”