COLCHESTER town centre motorists fear a flurry of fine letters is about to land on their doormats telling them they’ve been caught out by the town’s bus lane car ban.

It is now illegal for cars to turn right from the High Street into Queen Street, or to drive up North Hill and into the High Street.

However, motorists claim the ban was poorly publicised when it started in October, and there are still not enough signs warning of it.

Hundreds of drivers are thought to have been sent fine letters this week – mainly for offences committed several weeks ago.

Motorists who drive regularly in the town centre and may have unwittingly flouted the ban since them are now waiting to see if they will also face £60 fines.

Birch campaigner Chris Harvey has helped to organise a petition, calling for a County Hall fines amnesty until the restrictions are made clearer to motorists.

Within days, the number of names on the petition has topped the 2,000 mark.

Mr Harvey has been sent several fine letters and fears he and the rest of his family could be on the receiving end of many more.

He said: “I’m expecting between eight and ten more, because we just didn’t know about it when we drove there.”

Lexden stockbroker Michael Franklin, 28, has received four fine letters since the bus lane scheme started and has now launched a petition of his own on the website, calling for the bus lanes to be scrapped.

Mr Franklin, of Victoria Road, said: “I’m in the same boat as thousands of other people who have been caught like this because they weren’t aware the bus lanes were coming back.

“No one I have spoken to wants these bus lanes, or thinks they’re a good idea.

“It’s not going to do anything to alleviate congestion at all.”

The letters demand a £60 fine from motorists, offering a 50 per cent discount if they are paid within 14 days, but warning drivers will have to pay £90 if don’t cough up within 28 days.

Essex County Council has so far refused to reveal how many notices it has issued.

The bus lanes were re-introduced in October – eight months after they were suspended along with a controversial town centre traffic scheme, which banned cars from the High Street.

A county council spokesman said: “We welcome residents’ feedback and will consider any petition which is submitted.

“Recipients of penalty charge notices are able to contest them if they feel they have grounds to do so, and all representations are r e v i ewed on an indiv i d u a l basis.”