Bus Lane Contravention: Clapham Park Road

Have you received and paid for a penalty charge notice for a bus lane contravention from Lambeth Council on the A2217 Clapham Park Road?

If you did before 21st December 2009 then you may be entitled to a refund.

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In January 2009 I got a PCN on this road. I spent a year querying it (obtained from manually-operated CCTV — camera number 139) for a whole bunch of reasons (you don’t have to be an expert on these things to see a ton of things wrong with the whole set up). I finally received confirmation that the bus lane was non-compliant on 16th March 2010 and did not have to pay the charge.

The letter from Lambeth council outlined why they originally thought I was in breach of the law but then went on to state:

This [referring to the original decision to PCN me] was also the council’s position until 21 December 2009. The Council had commissioned an independent review of the Clapham Park Road bus lane by WS Atkins Consulting following a number of complaints and contradictory rulings by PATAS. In summary the result of the review was that the bus lane was not enforceable due to technicalities relating to length of the entry taper and the positioning of signage.

I’m not sure about tapering but if you go to google maps you can clearly see that the sign in question as you approach the bus lane does not state hours of operation. Now there is some debate as to whether that means a driver is to assume that the hours of operation are therefore 24×7. If not, then the sigange is indeed wrong but if so, and we are to assume in the absence of any times that it’s 24×7, then there is vast inconsistency throughout Lambeth borough and, I suspect, the whole of London. In fact this signage on Clapham Park road is the only example I can find of a 24×7 bus lane operation where the signage does not explicitly state this and if you drive on a bit further down Acre Lane you will find similar signage which states the hours of operation as being 24 x 7 excluding Sundays. There are other examples all over Lambeth where 24×7 is indicated by the phrase “At All times” and other such wording. This inconsistency will stand you in good stead if you wish to appeal.

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If you are thinking of engaging a council in correspondence you might be interested to know:

  • I had to do it via the Local Government Ombudsman as the council, without informing me,  passed my own letters onto a 3rd-party agency called Astron who simply sent unsigned acknowledgements in reply to each letter. As yet, Astron have not replied to a single letter.
  • Don’t complain about the lack of response to the council’s complaints manager. In my case he simply passed my complaint onto the Lambeth traffic Department who passed it on to Astron — I got the standard ack in reply.
  • Even if you are penalised on this road post 21/12/09 then you should still appeal. This notorious south London junction has a lot of things that mitigate any bus lane contraventions: not least the fact that because of the complex layout you, the driver, are forced to take a right-hand fork in order to turn left, something which comes very unnaturally to most drivers and is yet to be tested in front of a magistrate as far as I know.

UPDATE FROM Lambeth Council

6th August 2010

We suspended enforcement of this on 21/12/09 to carry out remedial works to the signs and lines. Enforcement recommenced on 22/01/10.  During this time no Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) were issued.

Although the signs and lines needed improving at this location the vast majority of drivers complied with the regulations and did not enter into the Bus Lane. Any motorist who received a PCN had the opportunity to challenge it within the statutory procedure at the time.  Although we had no legal obligation to reopen cases, we have reconsidered, on a case by case basis, any correspondence we received from a motorist who previously challenged the PCN on the grounds the signage was inadequate or confusing.

Comments

225 Responses to “Bus Lane Contravention: Clapham Park Road”
  1. Chas Dawson says:

    Apart from the TMO exemption which permits crossing of the bus lane (see comments above) the left arrow showing the ‘required’ route through the junction is worn away and barely visible. Millions in fines taken but no funding to keep the road markings painted at this notorious junction that has been criticised by the President of the AA, the BBC and other national media? Use this in your appeal also.

  2. Leon W says:

    Hi guys,

    Got stung with this same PCN. I remember once i was in the lane and started to turn left (i crossed over into the bus lane after it looked like the only way to turn left) i saw the little circular bus lane sign on the traffic lights and was so angry! How was this a bus lane and how have i ended up here?
    Never been fined for this before in my 13 years driving and clean licence.

    I’m appealing as it seems like the same PATAS case that got accepted and i mentioned it in the letter, was going to add the TMO details about crossing a bus lane to join an adjacent road being an exemption, but it kind of suggests that i did know it was a bus lane (which i didnt) so i left it out…

    I’ll post details when i hear back!

  3. Chas Dawson says:

    Hi Leon,

    I don’t think it suggests you knew you were in a bus lane – you simply discovered later about the exemption so should not have been issued with a PCN in the first case. Also mention the left arrow marking in the road showing the correct route through the junction is barely visible due to wear.

  4. barbara says:

    Hi , i have had 2 fines in less than 2 weeks for this road. i have paid the fines. Its a money spinner road, i may go and check what the lane actually says as it seems all is not as it should be

  5. barbara says:

    How do i challenge this, even though ive paid……..From reading a few articles, it doesnt seem that this is enforceable

  6. Helen says:

    Flippin nightmare. Just got fine through. Has anyone successfully challenged this over the last year or so?
    Grrrrrrr

  7. Chas Dawson says:

    There is a TMO exemption allowing drivers to turn left crossing the bus lane. Quote that in your informal appeal and request a copy. What was the date of the alleged offence? The left arrow at the traffic lights where they like you to turn was almost completely worn away and has just been repainted. Mention that failure also.

  8. Leon W says:

    Well – the appeal was rejected, but i feel like i can’t just let them milk easy money out of anyone that comes through this junction and falls into this trap.

    I don’t have the time and energy to do all the legal stuff myself, but if anyone knows a good lawyer or website to use please post on here and email me direct – leonwright85 (+At) gmail (+Dot) com

    Keep fighting guys!

  9. Louise says:

    Just got the fine through for this bus lane, I had no idea it was a bus lane, I’m not from the area and was following sat nav instructions.

    Also my letter didn’t arrive until the 7/10/15 and the date of penalty charge was the 18/9/15, so I have missed the reduced charge window.

    Any help with how to go about contesting the fine would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Louise.

  10. Arcalis says:

    Louise, Register and post details on pepipoo and check the threads. You will get help. Also check out whatdotheyknow FOI requests for this bus lane.

  11. Lou says:

    I have also just been fined for this apparent contravention and am fuming! I have paid the fine because I don’t have time to get the appeal in during the 14 day period. The Penalty charge notice didn’t even arrive until 7 days after it was issued, so don’t know what kind of post Lambeth Council were using. They only accept appeals in writing, you cannot do it on line, which is probably deliberate as it will put lazy people like me off taking the time to write in.
    I have never before been accused of driving in a bus lane, in 25 years of driving around London, and am always careful to avoid them.
    This particular junction is very unclear. I do not live in that area so really can’t be bothered to go back there to check out the signage situation, but I’m pretty sure that if it had been obvious, I would’ve seen it and not ventured into the bus lane.
    I’m furious that I’ve had to pay this outrageous fine to Lambeth council. I only work part time and the £65 is pretty much my weekly wage.

  12. Sid says:

    I recently got a fine for driving on the bus lane on Clapham Park Road 01-09-2016
    During most of August 2016 the traffic lights on this junction was covered up by orange hooded covers, this was confirmed by Lambeth council. As a responsible motorist we know when we see hooded cover traffic lights then we pass it, by safely crouching past. Checking the Highway Code there is no other way to pass traffic lights that do not work.
    I also agree with the statement that has been made that as a driver you have to fork to the right to do a left turn is not natural and our brains are not wired to think like this. Therefore as drivers we needs many practice before we get it right whilst being a money earner for Lambeth council. Finally the signage is very poor and by the time you realize what you have done it is too late. There should be laws against ill gotten government practices such as this by councils like Lambeth council.

    Given the reasons summarized below then I see I am at no fault
    (1) Unnatural expectations on driver to fork to the right to make a left turn
    (2) During most of August 2016 the traffic lights were covered with orange hoods
    (3) poor signage

    What should I do next?

    Sid

  13. Richard says:

    I also got caught on this bus lane. I submitted a freedom of information request to Lambeth Council asking them how much revenue they generated from this lane compared with other bus lanes in Lambeth. In the last year:

    Clapham Park Road £1,820,634

    Westminster Bridge Road £251,567

    Kennington Road £236,235

    Norwood Road £87,598

    Wandsworth Road £79,732

    Tulse Hill £40,833

    King’s Avenue £39,640

    Lambeth Road £39,403

    Acre Lane £22,792

    Cedars Road £5,222

    Waterloo Road £390

    Nearly 70% of their revenue from bus lanes is from this one. They refused to admit in writing (although did over teh phone) that this suggested the junction was not clear to the motorist. Will they do anything about it? I vey much doubt it.

  14. Arcalis says:

    Thanks for posting the FOI info above Richard. It is scandalous that the council is taking no action to improve the signage especially since seven adjudicators have upheld appeals stating it is confusing over the past 5 years. The latest one on 8 Dec

    ‘I acknowledge the submissions made by the council in this case. I am satisfied that this bus lane is marked and signed in compliance with the legal requirements and accept that in entering it the appellant must have crossed the thick while line demarcating the bus lane from the adjacent traffic lane but having considered the matter I am persuaded that the road layout at this junction does mislead the approaching motorist it appearing that the bus lane should be used to turn left at it. Additional signage and perhaps markings are to my mind needed to make it crystal clear to motorists turning left that they must not take this route in doing so and in their absence I am not satisfied that this bus lane’s signage and markings are adequate. Neither contravention as alleged has I find for that reason occurred’ Mr Andrew Harman Barrister London Tribunals Case reference 2160468106.

  15. fred says:

    I just got fined too and because I had no idea about my infringement I googled “Clapham park road” and here I am.

    What Richard has posted is clear evidence of the exploitation Lambeth council is carrying out.
    That is a real institutional scam ! Well done to the not so clever boys behind it.

    It’d be interesting to compare those figures with traffic volumes too, I’m sure it’d be even more shocking !

  16. Cristina says:

    I’ve just received a fine for this as well!!!!

  17. Christopher Dean says:

    Have just received fine today!! We were in London from Eastbourne for the weekend to move daughter to a new flat.
    Noticed all the other bus lanes in London say Mon – Fri, so assumed this was the same and saw no indication to the contrary.
    Judging by all the comments this appears to be a generous money spinner for Lambeth Council!
    I have gotten nowhere trying to find why and where the signage appears and whether it is adequate.
    I was following my Satnav which said left turn ahead, keep left. Which is what I did!
    It didn’t tell me the cost would be £65 for entering a 24hr bus lane!!!
    Shouldn’t these be interlinked?
    If I as a Brit can’t follow the road markings, then how the heck can we expect our foreign visitors to??
    Much as it irks me, I guess I will have to cough up the £65 within the fourteen days, but REALLY something should be done to alleviate this monstrous money maker!

  18. Christopher Dean says:

    Sorry, should have said it was Sunday, 2nd April.

  19. Sharon Doughty says:

    I have been a victim any advice anyone can give me please

  20. Sonia says:

    Hi just got fined for that too. It really looks like one of the traps in sw london. I don’t want to pay , going to chLlange it. Will let you know soon.

  21. Sonia says:

    It really looks like one of the traps in sw london. I don’t want to pay , going to chLlange it. Will let you know soon.

  22. NicholasS says:

    Yup, got stung by this one in the recent Siberian blizzard that hit the UK. The nasty thing about this one is the bus lane only appears near the bus stop so it is quite sudden, and there isn’t clear signage to tell you how you should turn left. It is a really confusing setup. You would have to veer right to turn left, and with snow and rain things can get really really unclear. Got stung again the following week in better conditions. Something kind of doesn’t seem right but by that time you’re committed to turning left. I honestly think most people turning left on this one will get caught out unless they have been trapped by it a number of times before. From looking at previous articles on this notorious money spinner for the council, old signage didn’t specify hours of operation but was clearer on sharp turn needed to avoid bus lane. New signage clarifies the legal technicality of hours of operation but is terrible for indicating how you avoid the bus lane. A real trap, and the council should really be ashamed with themselves for the number of unsuspecting people they catch out with this one.

  23. steven says:

    I’ve just received my £65 fine.
    It’s about time the local MP got involved and took the Council to task for what is clearly a corrupt money making scheme.

    With this level of fines there is clearly an issue with the road set-up that should have been addressed a long time ago.

    I would hope that someone is able to take these crooks to task in the future and hopefully we will all get our fines back.

  24. rev jason gallaway says:

    I’ve just got this pin for this terrible junction and have appealed , just had to see what happens, I went back over my dash cam footage to see what I did wrong and it is indeed difficult to understand this junction, it seems silly to go in to a right hand lane to turn left and the sign is to small to see and hidden in the trees as they not been cut back !!!

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