DRIVERS hoping to dodge a town centre bus lane by performing a “dangerous” U-turn can now be prosecuted after the manoeuvre was made an offence.

Essex Highways has taken repeated steps to try to prevent vehicles from turning into Lewis Gardens, Colchester, to access Queen Street.

It previously installed a traffic island and bollards to try to stop the problem, but found motorists still used the junction.

Motorists make the turn from East Hill to avoid the High Street bus lane, which has caught more than 60,000 drivers and drawn in almost £2million in revenue for Essex County Council since 2013.

A traffic regulation order will now be enforced as soon as accompanying signs are put in place.

From then on, motorists can be investigated by Essex Police and prosecuted if caught making the U-turn.

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council, said: “U-turn prohibition for Lewis Gardens has now been advertised and agreed.

“Once sealed, this order will make it an offence to carry out a U-turn in the High Street 60 metres either side of the Lewis Gardens junction.

“The intention of the order, as with the building of the traffic island and bollards at the junction, is to prevent drivers performing dangerous U-turns across the junction, which is often busy with pedestrians and cyclists.

“Enforcement, as with all such traffic orders, will be a matter for Essex Police.”

The council’s record of accidents at Lewis Gardens has recorded four incidents between October 2013 and September 2018.

In one crash in July 2018, a 72-year-old woman was seriously injured when she was involved in a collision with a car carrying out the manoeuvre.

Colchester Civic Society is worried drivers will continue to use other roads in East Hill, such as the nearby Roman Road, to make the U-turn.

Lee Scordis, Castle ward county councillor, welcomed the move and said previous measures to stop the manoeuvre had been ineffective.

“It’s good to see work finally being done on this dangerous junction to outlaw the dangerous U-turns,” he said.

“The bollards haven’t worked and it’s clear legal powers have been needed. I hope Essex Police will monitor this once the traffic regulation order comes into force.”