Exclusive: More than £1.1 million in fines from Bristol Bridge closure unpaid

Some may have been cancelled following appeal or written off

Bristol Bridge - entrance from Victoria StreetBristol Bridge - entrance from Victoria Street
Bristol Bridge - entrance from Victoria Street

More than £1.1 million in fines given to motorists caught driving through bus gates associated with the closure of Bristol Bridge have not been paid, figures obtained by BristolWorld reveal.

Bristol City Council banned private cars from crossing the bridge, entering either end of Baldwin Street and turning left from Union Street into Rupert Street as part of an initial trial launched in August last year.

It resulted in 72,216 penalty charge notices being issued up to the end of March this year - but just 35,118 (49 per cent) had been paid by September.

Each fine costs £30 when paid within 14 days from issue, and £60 thereafter.

That means at least £1.11 million worth of fines had not been paid for breaching the scheme, which was made permanent in July this year.

Penalty charge notices can be cancelled following a successful challenge, representation or appeal, or written off if the city council is unable to trace the vehicle owner or collect payment.

A fine can also take up to two years to be paid.

Bristol Bridge - view from Baldwin StreetBristol Bridge - view from Baldwin Street
Bristol Bridge - view from Baldwin Street

Earlier this year, it was reported that some fines had been quashed following an adjudication at a tribunal due to concerns raised about the council’s warning signs not being clear enough.

This week, a city council spokesperson said: “Although signs and road markings have always conformed to legal guidance we have upgraded to larger signs and painted additional road markings since the scheme first launched.

“An initial period of soft enforcement, where we issued warnings rather than fines, was also designed to give motorists time to get used to the new restrictions.

“Penalty charge notices are now being issued to those who ignore the signage and road markings.”

The spokesperson added that now the scheme had been made permanent, the city council was considering more changes to the road, such as red road surfacing in the bus lanes, to make it clearer for motorists.

The bus gate was introduced to give priority to buses, cyclists and pedestrians over Bristol Bridge while removing polluting traffic from the central area of the city.

Motorbikes and taxis can still use the routes.

On announcing the decision to make the scheme permanent in July, city mayor Marvin Rees said: “It has removed lots of polluting traffic from the central zone and improved bus punctuality and journey times, without causing significant problems elsewhere on the network.”

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, were for penalty charge notices issued from five cameras located in Victoria Street, Baldwin Street and High Street.

The Victoria Street camera on Bristol Bridge resulted in the highest number of fines issued up to the end of March, 23,887 - yet just 11,599 were paid by September.

Scott Rose, director of RSR Men’s Hairdressers in Baldwin Street, said that although he thought the scheme had made it difficult for motorists to get around the city centre, improved signage had made bus gate clear.

“I don’t see why the council wouldn’t be insisting on people paying up the fines,” he added.

This week, at his annual State of the City address, Mr Rees announced plans to ban private cars from Park Street.

Meanwhile, in Clifton Village, Princess Victoria Street has been partially pedestrianised as part of an ongoing trial.