The government has described a tiny north London bus lane that has raked in over £442,000 in fines as a “swindle”.
The lane, which is only marginally longer than a standard double-decker bus, is situated on Northolt Road, south Harrow.
Newly-released figures have shown that fines totalling £442,363 have been issued for motorists who have driven on the small stretch of road between April 2019 and the end of 2021.
Harrow East MP Bob Blackman questioned why so many bus lanes operate all hours rather than just at peak times and asked for a debate on bus lanes that “seem to be a way of milking motorists”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House, agreed, telling MPs: “It’s a swindle and once again the poor, hard-pressed motorists are being abused by councils who dislike motoring.”
He described the Conservatives as the “party of the motorist”, adding: “Bus lanes serve a role during peak hours, but to make them 24 hours just to turn them into a milch cow seems to me quite wrong.”
Nearly 8,000 drivers were caught out using the bus lane over the 20-month period, pulling in a figure approaching half a million pounds.
The figures were revealed after retired businessman Geoffrey Ben-Nathan, 77, submitted a Freedom of Information request to Harrow Council after he successfully appealed a fine for driving on the bus lane.
He argued that the signage on the approach to the lane was “unclear” and he had driven on it by accident.
His appeal was won after it was heard that most restrictions along the route only applied at certain times of the day but the small section with the bus lane was a 24/7 restriction, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
Ben-Nathan told the tribunal that people caught in the lane would “simply pay up”.
A spokesperson for Harrow Council said it was against the law for drivers to enter the bus lane.
They added: "We believe that the signage here is clear and in accordance with the law."
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