Burnley speeding fines: Euro court bid

A road safety campaigner is going to the European Court of Justice over the number of drivers fined for speeding in Princess Way, Burnley.
Princess Way in Burnley.Princess Way in Burnley.
Princess Way in Burnley.

Chris Johnson estimates that around £1m. has been raked in during the last four years from 8,122 drivers.

It has taken him months to have basic questions answered, even after involving the assistance of MPs for both Burnley and Pendle.

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Freedom of Information requests revealed that the number of prosecutions has risen every year since 2012; no earlier figures are available. In the last 12 months alone 2,719 tickets were issued by police in detector vans.

An FoI from the Burnley Express to the Lancashire Constabulary revealed that police officers spent 84 hours 24 minutes parked in Princess Way between March 2014 and February this year, and that of the 2,719 the vast majority, 2,010, had been clocked at 36 to 40mph.

Over the year, 709 drove at more than 41mph.

A similar enquiry, in November 2013, confirmed that 72% of speeders booked in Burnley were caught in Princess Way.

Mr Johnson, of Newchurch, said: “I felt to be getting nowhere and eventually I had to get my MP to contact Clive Grunshaw, the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, because I wasn’t having any joy at all.”

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In his reply Mr Grunshaw said: “Mr Johnson is clearly entitled to his own opinion but Lancashire Constabulary confirms this site was not chosen to generate income, it was a reactive response to complaints from local residents in respect to vehicles frequently exceeding the speed limit in that area.

“I am sure that you are familiar with this route and will be aware of the housing either side of the road and the fact that children, often unsupervised, play in the area and sometimes on the grass on the central reservation. This is one of the reasons this road has a limit of 30mph.”

“Unsupervised?” said Mr Johnson. “All that tells me is that parents are failing in their responsibilities when children are playing out on the central reservation!”

Speed trap vehicles are parked on both sides of Princess Way, at Canning Street and on the dual carriageway after Rectory Road, but police information officers responsible for FoIs could not provide figures for each side, saying it would take too long to find out.

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There are also no breakdown of figures about local drivers who opt to take a speed awareness course instead of paying a fine. Last year Lancashire County Council collected £2,979,105 from the £95 fees paid by 31,359 drivers.

It keeps £30 to cover the cost of providing the course (£940,000) and hands over the rest to Lancashire Police and the National Driver Offending Retraining Scheme.

In his letter, Mr Grunshaw said: “Unfortunately, Mr Johnson appears to believe Lancashire Constabulary are in the business of generating money and their efforts are nothing to do with road safety when in fact the Constabulary are responding to public concerns to excess speed in a residential area.”

He added: “In a bid to clarify Mr Johnson’s claims about potential money making, I can confirm any fines generated as a result of excess speeding offences are collected by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service on behalf of the Treasury and this income is not retained by the Police.

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On the speed awareness cash, Mr Grunshaw said: “The referring force does receive a levy to cover the costs of processing the offence. Any surplus monies are used to fund other road safety schemes which are approved by the Executive Board of the Partnership for Road Safety.

“Finally, I would like to reiterate that any surplus is ring-fenced for road safety initiatives and is not utilised for any other policing purpose.”

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