NEW measures to stop drivers flouting bus lanes are being put in place on Tyneside.
Newcastle Council wants to be able to fine motorists performing illegal U-turns, driving in cycle lanes, bus lanes, ignoring no-entry signs or stopping in yellow-hatched box junctions.
Rather than waiting for the Government roll-out of these new powers, which are available to London councils, Newcastle is preparing its own round of increased driving-related charges.
More than half a million pounds will be raised over two years by increasing parking fees and taking a stricter approach to motorists to wander into bus lanes.
City spending chiefs say they want to hike parking meter costs, bring in new evening parking charges for on and off-street parking, and withdraw free church permits.
CCTV cameras are likely to be brought in to ensure motorists who go into bus lanes get a penalty notice on their doormat.
Council officers at Gateshead officers also want to have the new powers, and in the meantime are going ahead with their own series of preventive measures. New bollards to stop car drivers using bus lanes are being installed at two locations in the town where lane markings are routinely ignored.
Bosses say the chicanes, which will be placed along the white line of the bus lane, are intended to deter motorists from cutting into the lane early or ignoring it completely.
Gateshead Council service director of transport strategy Nick Clennett said: “Enforcement action clearly has a place in ensuring the safe and efficient use of our road network, but we believe that it should be only part of our strategy.
“While we are investigating the potential to carry out enforcement action on our own road network under these Government proposals, we would only do this in known problem areas and as part of a measured approach.
“The trial of alternative measures such as bollards on bus lanes is evidence of this approach.”
Leaders at Gateshead say the new bollards are specially designed to allow emergency vehicles access to the lanes but prevent cars from straying and blocking the path of law-abiding motorists or busses.
It is believed Gateshead Council is the first in the UK to roll out the preventive measure.
Two locations, the A167 Newcastle Bank on the northbound approach to Eighton Lodge roundabout and the A184 Felling Bypass, approaching the junction of Grange Road, have been chosen for the trials.