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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Plan to allow locals to drive through bus gate in Nottingham

PUBLISHED:

A scheme which would allow residents of a housing estate in Nottingham to drive through a bus-only lane could be brought in.

It would be the first of its kind in the county – allowing residents of the estate to buy a pass for £25.

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It would also ban non-residents from using the road at any time.

The bus gate is currently only accessed by public transport  and it consists of a short section of road which provides direct access to Nuthall roundabout from the junction of Nottingham Road and Roland Avenue at the edge of the Horsendale estate.

Supporters of the move to allow residents access, including the area’s Conservative councillor Philip Owen, say it could reduce traffic, while being a boost for residents.

But there are several critics of the idea, including Nottinghamshire Police.

After a vote on Thursday, September 5, the scheme will go out to consultation, where it will likely be tweaked before being brought into effect.

As it currently stands, only residents of the Horsendale Estate will be eligible for a permit to be able to drive through the bus gate.

However with a primary school on the estate, concerns have been raised that parents who don’t live on the estate but have children at the school may follow other drivers through the bus gate, picking up fines.

A similar scheme was proposed in 2013, but eventually pulled by the county council, in part because police said it would be ‘unworkable and unenforceable’.

The existing restriction prohibits the use of this section of road in a westbound direction between 4pm and 6pm Mondays to Fridays by all vehicles other than buses and pedal cycles.

The scheme was originally intended to avoid people using the route as a ‘rat run’ to avoid traffic on the A610 roundabout at peak times.

Residents in effect want to use the route as a short-cut, to avoid traffic on the A610.

The current plans would mean the time restriction would be extended from 4pm until 6pm to 24/7 for all vehicles, other than buses and residents of the estate.

At a meeting at County Hall, the Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council voted narrowly to moved forward with plans to consult on introducing the scheme.

A council report on the issue said the current system was ‘largely self-enforcing and relatively efficient to enforce.’

It goes on to say: “If a permit system is introduced, there is still a risk of challenge from visitors to the area and a key decision is the eligibility for a permit.

“It is considered that the standard approach would be to exempt vehicles registered with the DVLA to eligible addresses.

“This is the same system used for resident parking permits.

“For example, it is anticipated that this would not extend to temporary hire cars used by residents, works vehicles not registered to the residents’ home address, services visiting residents, close family member visiting residents etc.”

It also says there could be ‘substantial’ cost implications, due to the need to maintain a list of who is eligible, dealing with enforcement, and handling complaints and appeals.

“It is evident that no mechanism could completely avoid issues arising from the sale of vehicles, residents moving, company vehicles, courtesy cars, borrowed vehicles and visitors to residents, and these factors would likely lead to a large number of appeals as well as resource implications in monitoring and maintaining the proposed exemption.

“There is no permit system used in Nottinghamshire for bus lanes or bus gates specifically for private vehicles and therefore there is no specific policy that covers this.”

Councillor John Cottee is the chairman of the highways committee, and represents Keyworth for the Conservatives.

He said: “The bus gate was first introduced in 2003 to provide priority for westbound buses at the A610 Nuthall roundabout during weekday evening periods.

“It currently consists of a short section of road which provides direct access to Nuthall roundabout from the junction of Nottingham Road and Roland Avenue at the edge of the Horsendale estate.

“During the hours of 4pm to 6pm Monday to Friday, use of this section in a westbound direction by vehicles other than buses and pedal cycles is prohibited.

“We know that many vehicles contravene the restrictions which causes significant delays for local people and bus operators and the county council is keen to work to improve this.”

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