Bid to halt Calderdale Council bus lane camera plan fails

Bus lane in Huddersfield Road, Halifax.
Bus lane in Huddersfield Road, Halifax.

Civil enforcement of Calderdale’s bus lanes, resulting in fines for drivers breaking the rules, will be going ahead.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed to support a scheme which will use automatic number plate recognition cameras in bus lanes and other routes with restricted access.

The equipment, which will cost around £115,000 for a trial three-camera scheme (a full eight-camera scheme will cost about £295,000, with an estimated £140,000 needed annually for running costs), will be brought in to penalise drivers using those routes illegally to gain ground during restricted hours.

But the decision was considered by the Place Scrutiny Board following a call-in notice from councillors Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn), who is board chairman, Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) and Roger Taylor (Con, Northowram and Shelf).

At Cabinet, Coun Barry Collins (Illingworth and Mixenden), who has the portfolio for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, said the proposal would enable the council to undertake civil enforcement to ensure the bus lane arrangements were obeyed.

The borough was choked with traffic and encouraging bus use was part of an overall strategy aimed at encouraging people to use public transport more and improving air quality. By ensuring cars did not use bus lanes when they were prohibited from doing so, buses would be more able to meet timetable, he argued.

It is intended capital costs can be funded through the West Yorkshire Transport Fund.

Councillor Leigh and the other councillors’ notice challenged Cabinet’s decision outlining why they thought the decision should be re-examined, including the impact on residents, commuters and businesses and how it related to other council policies.

However, a majority of the board voted to release the decision for implementation.

When it is brought in drivers who transgress will face fines in line with national guidelines.

At present Calderdale has six lengths of bus lane.

They are at the A629 Skircoat Road (Free School Lane to Caygill Terrace), Halifax, which is northbound Mondays to Fridays 7.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6pm; at the A629 Huddersfield Road (Spring Hall to Stafford Square), Halifax, which is southbound Mondays to Fridays, 4pm to 6pm; the A629 at Ainley Top (Huddersfield Road to Ainley Top roundabout), which is southbound 24 hours every day; the A646 Burnley Road (Trimmingham Lane to Warley Road), Halifax, which is eastbound Mondays to Fridays, 7.30am to 9.30am; the A646 King Cross slip road into the King Cross district centre, Halifax, which is eastbound 24 hours every day; and Wade Street, Halifax (which is specific to the needs of taxis and the local shoppers’ bus serving the Sainsbury’s store), which is westbound 24 hours a day.

Within Halifax town centre there are currently three access restrictions on Commercial Street, Market Street and King Edward Street which prohibit all motor vehicles except buses, taxis and for loading.

A similar restriction at the eastern end of King Cross Road prohibits all traffic from entering from the A58 with the exception of buses.

Following release of the decision for implementation, costs and designs can be included in full business case documentation due to be submitted to West Yorkshire Transport Fund in September.

Introduction of further camera sites is also a possibility and would be aligned to the council’s programme of Transport Fund and other highways capital schemes.