MORE than 1,000 people have urged council bosses to stop handing out fines to motorists who mistakenly use Colchester town centre’s new bus lanes.
A great online revolt has been launched this week against new traffic restrictions by residents and visitors to Colchester who say they are too confusing.
Many believe businesses will suffer because baffled visitors handed fines will not come to Colchester town centre any more.
Some have accused Essex County Council of using the bus lanes, which impose restrictions up North Hill and on motorists turning from the High Street on to Queen Street, as a cash cow.
A petition at www.change.org, set up by Jerry-Ann Cotterill and Chris and Jane Harvey on New Year’s Eve, attracted 750 signatures within 24 hours.
The number of supporters was expected to top 1,000 last night.
It calls on County Hall to stop issuing tickets until the signs and markings informing motorists of the restrictions are much clearer.
Mrs Cotterill, 25, of Hazelton Road, Colchester, said the petition had been launched after her husband Paul had picked up a fine for using North Hill without realising the ban was in place.
She said: “We did a bit of research and we noticed a lot of people on Facebook had been saying the same thing – they’d got fines and they were completely unaware there were bus lanes.
“That’s why we started the petition and we’ve already had a brilliant response. There are a lot of people out there who are not happy. We’ve appealed because the signs are inadequate.
The council should have picked up there are so many problems here because it is issuing so many fines.
“They should be thinking hang on a minute, why are people not aware rather than just giving more fines.
“I can understand that people don’t want to go into town and that’s not good for business.”
Two new Facebook groups, with more than 800 members between them, are also packedwith complaints from angry motorists unsure why they have been fined.
The £60 fines are halved to £30 if paid within 14 days, but jump to £90 if left for 28 days or more.
The Gazette asked Essex County Council on December 13 to reveal how many penalty charge notices had been issued. The authority said in a statement this week it was still calculating howmany had been issued.
In November, the Gazette revealed between October 24, when the cameras were turned on, and November 14, 802 penalty charge notices had been issued.
If the trend of issuing nearly 40 tickets a day continued, then about 2,500 tickets will have been sent out by the end of 2013.
A consultation on town centre changes will be published this year.
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The restrictions were re-introduced as an experimental traffic order, the consultation period for which has recently finished. We are reviewing the responses to the consultation and assessing the need for any alterations.”