A tour company fined for driving its vintage bus in a bus lane has claimed victory after overturning the charge.
Tyneside tour company Tyne Idols were hit by a £70 penalty charge notice from Newcastle City Council for taking their double-decker Leyland Atlantean over the High Level Bridge, despite having used the route many times before.
The road section of the High Level Bridge can only be used by buses and taxis, but the local authority deemed on this occasion that the bright yellow tour bus was not eligible to use it.
The council initially said that the bridge should only be open to “local buses” – meaning those that are part of the public transport network.
The tour company, which runs excursions hosted by ex-Lindisfarne drummer Ray Laidlaw, has now successfully overturned the fine – and been granted a five-year exemption to use the High Level Bridge and all other bus-only routes in the city.
Paul Irwin from Tyne Idols said: “We have worked hand in hand with Newcastle City Council for years and we are delighted that they have given us authorisation to use the bus lanes in the city. We look forward to bringing in more tourists to Newcastle and showing them the cultural delights of our great city.”
Tyne Idols celebrates the North East’s film, TV, and music heritage and has staged specialist tours themed around some of the region’s most famous productions – including Get Carter, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and The Likely Lads.
Their bus lane fine was brought up in a question at Wednesday night’s Newcastle City Council meeting by independent councillor Marc Donnelly.
The Chapel ward representative said that the firm “should be encouraged for bringing tourists to the area and showing our rich heritage and history”, adding: “The City Council should not be redefining the definition of what will be seen by all city residents a ‘bus’ and tourists must be encouraged to continue to visit and explore the city.”
The council replied that tour buses had been excluded from the bus lane “at a time when there were concerns regarding the bridge’s structural integrity” and that the penalty notice was, therefore, issued correctly.
However, the council added it has exercised its discretion to "temporarily authorise" the vehicle and it is permitted to use the High Level Bridge, in addition to all the other bus lanes, bus gates and bus-only streets for the next five years.
The penalty notice has been cancelled, the council added.
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