More motorists to be banned from new roads

Motorists in taxis and motorbikes, as well as cyclists, are set to be receive a new ban from travelling through certain roads in Essex.

One of the areas which would see the motorists banned from entry and exit points is at Rayleigh Railway Station, which will be enforced by cameras.

While in Maldon, an order banning cars driving though a restricted access heading north Mill Road may be replaced with one that allows taxis and motorbikes through, but which would permit a bus gate camera to catch everyone else.

Essex County Council has already installed 12 bus gates across the county – including at Duke Street in Chelmsford, Laindon Link in Basildon and Long Riding in Basildon.

Around 20,500 tickets were issued for contraventions at the Duke Street bus gate alone in 2019. This went down to 15,500 in 2020, even with the effects of covid.

Between January 2021 and July 2021, 11,500 fines have been issued against people driving through the bus gate.

The county council said it now needs to expand its powers further, because while a number of these gates are “self-regulating”, a number of sites have been identified with suffering from a high level of contravention.

And to maintain the credibility of the bus gates, it needs to install cameras to deter people.

Currently the ban on a left-turn entry to Rayleigh Station supported by signage indicating “No Entry Except for Buses” has been in place since 1981 but which can only be enforced by a police officer.

Over a three day monitoring period there were on average 204 contraventions, the authority said.

The bus gate proposal would reduce any resource burden on Essex Police, whilst ensuring that this area is not obstructed by other vehicles thus creating more efficient bus services to and from Rayleigh Station, the council adds.

Additionally any car parking next to the taxi office in the restricted bus area, which is already banned, would be liable for a PCN fine.

In Maldon a bus gate camera would automatically catch motorists driving northbound along Mill Road from its junction with the Promenade Park recreation ground.

Councillor Lee Scott, cabinet member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport, is currently considering whether a bus gate there should exempt hackney carriages, cyclists and motorbikes and mopeds or whether any bus gate should ban all vehicles except buses.

It admits allowing some other vehicles through would cause “inconsistency”.

A report to Cllr Scott said: “This option would be consistent with county guidance.

“However, this option would cause inconsistency of the current prohibition of entry orders when authorised vehicles in Maldon can use the bus gates, which could cause delays to the bus services, increase congestion and increase the likelihood of collisions due to the narrow width of the carriageway. Any objections received during this consultation will be reviewed by the cabinet member before changes implemented on the ground.”

In conclusion it says of the plans; “The council is committed to increasing public transport usage within the county, reducing congestion and the environmental impacts of single use cars.

To achieve this the council has installed bus gates to improve journey time reliability and reduce localised environmental impacts of other vehicles.

“While a number of these are self-regulating, a number of sites have been identified with suffering from a high level of contravention.

“Therefore, to maintain the credibility of the bus gates, it has become necessary for the council to have the ability to enforce these sites, by using type approved bus lane/gate enforcement cameras to people who have infringed a bus lane or bus gate will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) letter.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter