Council puts bus stop across man's drive

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Bus stop

Ivor Souter, a retired caretaker from Sheffield, came home one afternoon to discover that council contractors had painted a bus stop directly outside his drive. He's furious - claiming that it will leave him trapped on his drive while buses on the busy route load and unload.

But what are his rights?

He told the Sheffield Star that he was already having enough trouble getting out of his drive, because there were so many bus services running along Thorpe Green. He estimates there are 20 services going past each hour, and during busy times the buses stack up along the road. Now the bus stop extends to outside his drive he says that during these times: "I will be a prisoner in my own home".

He has lodged a complaint but the council told the Star that it was part of a series of measures to make routes better and safer, and that there had been consultation before the changes.

Your rights

The problem for Souter is that the local authorities own the roads and can put bus stops wherever they like. Homeowners can appeal. However, they won't have any luck arguing that a bus stop is a nuisance, because the council have to put the stop outside someone's house.

Souter may have some joy in persuading the council if he lodges his complaint on safety grounds. He can argue that the bus stop is blocking his right of way, which makes going in and coming out difficult and slow. He could argue that this leaves his car in an exposed position in the road for long periods - which could lead to an accident. If he gets no joy he can take his complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman which will rule on bus stop matters.

Councils

Buses are clearly a vital part of the public transport network, but it seems that thoughtless actions by councils across the country are causing stress and expense for other motorists in their relentless protection of the rights of buses.

Purely by chance, in many cases, this protect of the rights of buses is proving a nice little earner too. A record 1.32 million fines were issued in the year 2011-2012 for minor traffic infringements - such as straying into the bus lane. This raised an estimated £135 million for councils across the country.

And while some drivers may genuinely be causing a serious obstruction, there are plenty who don't seem to have been doing anything wrong.

Crazy bus tales

Last week it emerged that almost 700 vehicles were snapped by a bus lane camera in Glasgow - after they were directed to drive into the lane to make way for a charity road race. The drivers thought they were ding the right thing, but restrictions were not relaxed for the day, so each driver received a £30 fine. One of them appealed the fine and was rejected, so submitted a freedom of information request asking how many cars had been caught that day. When it emerged that there had been 685, he won his appeal. However, the other fines still stand.

In February a Bradford motorist received a parking ticket after a mobile traffic camera photographed him stopped at a bus stop. The only problem was that he hadn't parked there: he was stuck in traffic. The council apologised and cancelled the fine.

Last September a driver from Spalding in Lincolnshire received a fine for driving in a bus lane in Sheffield. He was surprised - not least because he'd never been to Sheffield - and was even more surprised when he saw the 'evidence' attached to the letter was a photo of one of the council's own street sweepers.

In May last year a 67-year-old motorist in Bristol paid a fine after receiving a letter through the post showing his car in a bus lane. However, he was at a loss to understand why he would have been there, so asked for further evidence. He was then sent CCTV footage to show him moving into the bus lane to let two fire engines past. The council apologised and refunded his money.