NO tickets have been issued this year to illegal drivers on a pedestrianised route through the heart of Winchester, despite a survey revealing ten motorists an hour flout the law.
Just weeks after a Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said appropriate action would be taken if drivers were spotted using St George’s Street, Middle Brook Street and the lower High Street, they have admitted only issuing two fixed penalty notices in the past 18 months, both last year.
A Hampshire Chronicle survey last month revealed that 80 drivers in eight hours illegally used the route, which is designated for taxis, buses and access vehicles only.
The ban has been in place for over 20 years – since The Brooks Centre was opened - yet the survey revealed that in the space of eight hours, 39 cars and 41 vans flouted the law.
One driver, who asked not to be named, said he was completely unaware of the regulations, despite signs located at the corner of Middle Brook Street and St George’s Street, and in the High Street by Marks and Spencer.
A police spokesman at the time said: “Officers regularly patrol Winchester City Centre and if they see anyone using the bus/taxi lane illegally they will take appropriate action.”
However, a spokesman said that just because only a small number of fixed penalty notices have been issued, it “doesn’t mean officers haven’t stopped drivers or spoken to them about the restrictions.”
Chris Gillham, of Winchester Friends of the Earth, said he wasn’t surprised to learn how many drivers are rule-breaking, but thinks something needs to be done.
“There’s no point in having regulations if it’s not enforced,” he said.
“The restrictions there have an obvious purpose and it is being abused, and if it is not enforced the abuse will grow. It only takes a bit of enforcement to stop it all together.”
He added: “I think the police generally don’t enforce legislation unless they perceive that people are reporting a problem. They are probably very busy people and won’t do anything unless people point it out.”
When asked about enforcing the ban, Winchester City Council said that dealing with moving vehicles was a police matter.
One retired Winchester police officer, who asked not to be named, said: “To sort this out it needs regular enforcement. I have seen police officers wave drivers through.”