Lancashire roads bosses want power to fine drivers making banned turns

Lancashire County Council is set to ask the government for new powers to fine motorists for committing so-called ‘moving traffic offences’ – including breaching turning bans and driving in the wrong direction up one-way streets.

If the authority gets the green light for the move, it means that automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras could be installed at four initial locations – two in Preston, one in Accrington and another in Lancaster.

However, County Hall would then have blanket permission to be able to introduce similar measures at other problem spots on the roads under its control, without the need to seek further approval from the Department for Transport, the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands.

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Each of the proposed camera set-ups would nevertheless still be subject to local public consultations before being approved by highways bosses.

Drivers ignoring signs outlawing certain manoeuvres could be in line for a fine from next year (image: Google)

The county council is now asking people for their views on the first four junctions that it has identified as being in need of stricter enforcement to deter drivers from breaking the rules that are already in place.

Accident data has played a part in the selection of the locations – with at least nine collisions having occurred in the last five years.

Other rules that could be enforced by county council-controlled ANPR cameras include those which apply at yellow box junctions – which should not be entered unless the exit from them is clear or a driver is turning right – and those in force on streets where motor vehicles are prohibited altogether. However, speeding enforcement would remain a matter for the police even if the local authority is given the new powers for which it plans to apply.

If its plans are approved, the cameras could appear next year – but for the first six months of their operation, the county council intends to issue warning notices for a first offence in order to “educate drivers about the contravention that they have committed”. County Hall claims that strengthened enforcement would improve road safety and air quality – and reduce journey time and congestion.

More cameras could be coming to Lancashire's streets to catch drivers doing the wrong thing

County Cllr Charlie Edwards, cabinet member for highways and transport, said that the locations identified so far were seeing “congestion and…a danger to road users” as a result of the rules of the road being ignored.

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He added: “In order to be able to enforce these locations with camera technology, we need to be granted the powers to do so by the government. I’m grateful for people taking the time to give us their views on the first proposed locations.

“It’s a priority for us to keep our roads safe, keep traffic moving and do what we can to minimise emissions.

“We are hoping that if this initiative is successful, it could be rolled out at other locations across the county. Any additional sites would each undertake the same consultation process before it was rolled out to them in the future.”

The six-week public consultation on the initial locations can be accessed via the county council’s website.

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RULES OF THE ROAD

Since 31st May this year, local authorities in England have been able to apply to the Transport Secretary for new powers to enforce certain moving traffic offences.

Such powers have previously been the preserve of the police, but if they are now granted to the councils that ask for them, those local authorities will be able to issue fines to drivers for a range of offences for the first time. The beaches that would attract fines under the changes include ignoring signs banning left or right turns or U-turns.

The new scheme was introduced following concern nationally that some offences were not being strictly enforced. In 2019, the Local Government Association conducted a survey of English local authorities - outside of London, where councils already have enforcement powers - in which two thirds of respondents said that the police did not actively enforce any moving traffic offences in their area.

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Ninety percent of councils said that they would use civil enforcement powers if they were available - mainly to alleviate congestion and improve road safety.

The levels of fines that can be imposed range from £20 for lower-level penalties which are paid promptly, up to £105 for late payment of higher-level penalties.

The government has said that traffic enforcement must be "aimed at increasing compliance and not raising revenue". Unlike funds raised from speed camera fines, which are transferred to central government, surplus funds from moving traffic enforcement will be retained by the local authority, but can be used only to recoup the cost of enforcement or pay for public transport provision, highway improvement projects or environmental improvements in the authority’s area.

Source: House of Commons library

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PROPOSED CAMERA SITES

PRESTON

Ringway and Bow Lane junction – westbound (no right turn) and both directions (no U-turn)

Lancashire County Council says that there is currently “abuse” of both restrictions and that motorists who ignore the signs could “come into conflict with pedestrians using the pedestrian crossing” at the junction.

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The location has seen four accidents in the last five years and the police have already provided enhanced enforcement and temporary signs as a deterrent.

Charnley Street, one-way section from Corporation Street to St. Wilfred Street – no entry

Highways bosses report that the restriction – close to the entrance to the Fishergate car park – is being flouted by drivers seeking a route back out onto Corporation Street from the city centre. They say that the prohibited manoeuvre is “popular” with those wanting to avoid the bus gate on Fishergate itself.

Motorists sticking to the rules have to exit the city centre via streets around Avenham in order to avoid entering the stretch of Fishergate – between Mount Street and Corporation Street – which is reserved for buses and some authorised vehicles and is already covered by its own ANPR cameras.Whilst no injury-causing accidents have been recorded at the Charnley Street junction, the road layout has been designed to narrow the entry point for single-file traffic turning in from Corporation Street.

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In explaining the proposed camera enforcement, Lancashire County Council says: “Vehicles entering Charnley Street do not expect a conflict with an oncoming vehicle.“Enforcement at this location will reduce rat-running through the city centre and reduce the conflict between vehicles and pedestrians at the junction of Charnley Street and Corporation Street.”

The route was briefly made two-way in 2020 as result of temporary restrictions introduced at the junction of Fox Street and Fishergate to accommodate social distancing requirements at the time.

LANCASTER

Morecambe Road, Aldi junction – no right turn

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The county council says that it receives “regular complaints about traffic turning right out of the junction” – ignoring the sign at the especially-angled junction which tells them not to do so and so increasing the risk of a collision, of which there have been three over the past five years.

“This [manoeuvre] requires vehicles to come into conflict with traffic that may be queuing to enter the junction on the right-turn lane,” the authority adds.

ACCRINGTON

Hyndburn Road, McDonald’s junction – no right turn

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Vehicles approaching the town in an eastbound direction are directed to go around the King Street/Eastgate roundabout in order to gain access to the Viaduct Retail Park – and not turn right across Hyndburn Road.

The restriction was introduced because visibility is limited for vehicles exiting that roundabout in the opposite direction and approaching the entrance to the shopping complex. Vehicles wanting to turn right can also create delays for inbound vehicles leading to increased congestion – hence the prohibited right turn, highways bosses say.

The junction has seen two accidents in the last two years.