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Manchester City Council has generated more than £7.5 million in the last five years from motorists straying into bus lanes.

The data, released through a Freedom of Information request, shows the fines exceeded more than £2.1m alone for the financial year 2014/15.

This “extortionate amount” has been criticised by criminal and motoring lawyer Nick Freeman, who said it was self evident that this authority saw drivers as a legitimate means of raising extra revenue for topping up its dwindling coffers.

The Loophole lawyer, whose office is located in Manchester city centre, said: “To generate more than £7.5m in fines from bus lane cameras over five years in one city alone is astonishing.

“This exorbitant level of money corroborates my view that councils simply regard motorists as cash cows.

“It was only six years ago that our cash-strapped city council was forced to reimburse motorists with tens-of-thousands-of-pounds for straying into bus lanes, where a number of cameras had not been ‘approved’.”

The total amount of revenue generated from Penalty Charge Notices issued to motorists has increased dramatically in recent years, rising from £850,000 in 2010/11 to a high of £2.175m in 2013/14. The figures for the last five financial years are below:

  • 2014/15- £2,101,556
  • 2013/14- £2,175,632
  • 2012/13- £1,414,998
  • 2011/12- £1,009,266
  • 2010/11- £854,969

 

Entering a bus lane during restricted hours will result in a driver being issued with a £60 Penalty Charge Notice. If payment is made within 14 days of the date of notice, the fine is then reduced to £30. If the payment is not made within 28 days the charge will increase to £90.

According to Manchester City Council revenue generated from bus lane enforcement is reinvested into highway improvement schemes, or the provision of passenger transport services.

Mr Freeman added: “The perverse irony is that the current restrictions cause congestion for motorists, who crawl along pot-holed riddled surfaces where priority is given to cyclists and pedestrians.

“So-called highways improvements undertaken by the city council are nothing of the sort. Deansgate is a classic example!

“The authority needs to assess whether the bus lanes are actually benefitting the city as planned. Are they leading to an increase in commuters using public transport? Or, as I have said repeatedly, are they just making congestion far worse?”