JUST two of Colchester's 12 bus lanes are being monitored by camera, the Gazette can reveal.

Even long-standing bus lanes, such as those in Maldon Road, the Hythe Crossing, Middleborough and North Station Road are not being watched by highways authority Essex County Council.

The only lanes which are being enforced are in North Hill and at the junction of High Street and Queen Street.

It means the only way rogue drivers can be punished at the other lanes is if they are caught red-handed by traffic police.

Bill Frame, Lib Dem Colchester councillor for the town centre, has now called on County Hall bosses to come clean.

He said: "Either these lanes are required and they should be enforced or they are not. So which is it?

"All of them should be enforced. There is no point in having these lanes unless you give them some teeth."

He added: "Quite frankly motorists cannot always be relied on to do the right thing.

"It's a situation where they want to get from A to B and they want to do that the quickest way possible.

"What this means is the police are the only ones who have the power in the vast majority of the lanes and I think they might just have other priorities."

The information was published after a Freedom of Information request was submitted by The Gazette following a series of inspections at three sites in the town; in North Station Road between The Albert and Essex Hall roundabout, Queen Street and at Hythe Station Road.

We found thousands of drivers were flouting the rules daily and some were even risking people's lives.

The most serious of our findings was at High Street's junction with Queen Street, where only buses, taxis, motorbikes and emergency vehicles can turn right.

During our inspections we witnessed drivers going towards East Hill from High Street not only using Lewis Gardens, at Firstsite, to u-turn and then turn left into Queen Street legitimately, but some eastbound drivers were turning right into Queen Street from the left-hand lane, while pedestrians were correctly crossing the road.

In three separate ten-minute inspections of the area, we counted a total of 46 vehicles making the u-turn and three cars making the dangerous and illegal right turn from High Street into Queen Street.

Mr Frame said: "This is a very serious issue. I've witnessed it myself.

"The people who are doing it know exactly what they are doing and it is incredibly dangerous."

The Gazette has already highlighted the northbound stretch of North Station Road between The Albert and Essex Hall, which is "closed" to all traffic except for buses, taxis and residents' vehicles.

During four short inspections there, we saw a total of 80 vehicles using the road. None of the inspections were in rush hour.

Three ten-minute inspections at the Hythe Crossing saw a total of 20 rogue drivers using the road.

Our Freedom of Information request asked Essex County Council for the number of fines (PCNs) given to drivers using the North Station Road lane and the lane between Middleborough and North Hill.

The response stated: "The two bus lanes that PCN data was requested for do not have enforcement cameras.

"No PCN’s are issued for these roads by Essex County Council.

"To clarify, there are two bus lane enforcement CCTV cameras in Colchester.

"One of these is facing up North Hill towards the High Street, the other is on the High Street/Queen Street junction."

An official comment was also requested from Essex County Council.

Essex Police was also asked for comment.