Hampshire woman hit with 'a dozen' Tyne Tunnel fines despite never driving through it

Susan Woodhead lives 300 miles away from the crossing. Credit: NCJ Media

A Hampshire woman has been landed with 'a dozen' Tyne Tunnel fines despite never having used it.

Susan Woodhead, who lives 300 miles away in Andover, was shocked when she received the letters and thought she was being scammed.

After her initial notice on 3 December, she went to the police, fearing her license plate had been cloned, as well as writing to the crossing's operator, TT2.

At the end of December, Susan received three letters from the company saying the fault had been recognised and they would note in their system the car involved wasn't hers.

But throughout January, she continued to receive Unpaid Toll Charge Notices from TT2, despite correspondence that she wouldn't.

She decided to call the Tyne Tunnel directly, where she says she was told that the number plate had been misread due to a screw on the number plate, which was reading a 'C' as a 'G' - hence the fines.

TT2 has said 'additional checks' are being put in place to make sure errors such as this do not happen again and said their number plate technology has a high level of accuracy.

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

The 69-year-old isn't the first driver living hundreds of miles away to come forward after being wrongly fined.

Others include a Kent woman who had never been to the North East.

Susan said: "You have to prove you were not there - I mean I was fortunate because I park my car outside my office when I'm at work and I have appointments with people, so I have a few people who could be witnesses that my car was where I said it was.

"The police also told me to collect car parking tickets, collect supermarket receipts just to prove where I was.

"I just feel as though it hasn't been resolved satisfactorily because although they said 'it's our error, we're sorry' - this is really not good enough.

"This company is not accountable to the people who it treats this way. People who have never been through the Tunnel have all of this to deal with.

"How many other people have been put through this inconvenience?"

Local campaigner Gary Spedding's Tyne Tunnel Fines campaign now has more than 13,000 signatures online - calling for an overhaul of TT2's current system.

Philip Smith, Chief Executive at TT2 Credit: NCJM

With regards to Susan's case, Chief Executive at TT2, Philip Smith, said: “An inaccurate Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) reading unfortunately led to Mrs Woodhead receiving an invalid charge notice.

"It was quashed on appeal and we are very sorry that Mrs Woodhead was inconvenienced and upset and we have apologised to her, personally.

“We have put some additional checks in place to ensure this issue – where a C on Mrs Woodhead’s registration plate was read as a G, due to a bolt placement - does not happen again.

“We would like to reassure tunnel users that, due to the high accuracy of our ANPR system, incorrect number plate readings are very rare and will always be rectified as soon as a customer appeals their UTCN. This means that no-one will ever have to pay for our error.

"We endeavour to sort out any charge notices caused by incorrect readings as quickly as possible, via our customer service team.

“Currently, our ANPR readings are correct 99.8% of the time and our agents manually check around 5,000 readings per day.

“We are putting new steps in place continually to improve this accuracy rate, as we learn more about the technology and how to effectively mitigate against any anomalies that occur in the automatic readings. We are striving to reach an accuracy rate of 99.96% and believe we are track to achieve this.”