Woman from Kent who has 'never been to North East' issued fine for Tyne Tunnel

Julie Barnett lives 300 miles away on the Isle of Sheppey. Credit: Julie Barnett

A woman has been fined more than £175 from the Tyne Tunnel - despite living 300 miles away and claiming to have never stepped foot in the North East.Julie Barnett, from Kent, was confused when she got an Unpaid Toll Charge Notice (UTCN) from tunnel operator TT2 in December.

The 62-year-old, who lives on the Isle of Sheppey, says she has "never been north of the Thames" and is a total stranger to the North East - though she has "heard of Ant and Dec".

The crossing has been the subject of a great number of complaints over recent months since making the switch to a new cashless system.

The crossing went cashless in November to cut CO2 emissions and reduce journey times Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

TT2, which operates the tunnel, has apologised to Mrs Barnett and agreed to cancel the fines.

The retiree, who has two children and one grandson, said the experience had been "very stressful" and complained that TT2 "make it easy to pay, but not easy to contact them".

She added: "I wrote to them in December to say this was not my car - the one in the picture has a different shape number plate to mine and if you look closely you can see it is a different registration.

"They apologised to me, but then I got a final payment reminder notice in January. I wrote to TT2 again but did not get a response this time.

"I thought it had been dealt with and they had forgotten about me, but then the next thing you know I am getting an enforcement notice telling me that I owe a lot of money - £176.90.

"It has all been quite distressing."

Over 11,000 Tyne Tunnel fines have been cancelled since the change in system. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A TT2 spokesperson said on Tuesday that, after investigating Mrs Barnett's case, they found two UTCNs linked to her car - one that was cancelled in December and another that had been escalated to enforcement levels.

They added: "However, since she has now brought this to our attention, we are happy to confirm that we have cancelled the second UTCN.

"TT2 will always try to work with our customers to resolve any issues like this."

Latest figures show 4.71% of drivers going through the tunnel are getting fined for non-payment of tolls, which amounts to around 55,000 penalties being issued per month.