2,000 Leeds city centre drivers slapped with £70 fines every month over 'bus gate' breaches

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2,000 penalties a month are being issued to motorists driving through Leeds city centre.

On average Leeds City Council issue 1,968 fixed rate penalty fines a month to drivers breaching the bus gates on City Square and Vicar Lane, according to numbers obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

A bus gate, to make sure cars do not turn off onto Lady Lane, was introduced on Vicar Lane in October 2021, with another added to City Square in October 2022 as part of ongoing transformative works to pedestrianize the area outside Leeds station.

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This aims to create a “much-improved space for pedestrians and cyclists” that will help to improve journey times for public transport in the city centre.

Leeds City Square, pictured with roadworks in place, and, inset, a traffic camera.Leeds City Square, pictured with roadworks in place, and, inset, a traffic camera.
Leeds City Square, pictured with roadworks in place, and, inset, a traffic camera.

Between September and December 2022, 3,340 drivers were caught by the Vicar Lane cameras, averaging out at 835 a month, with fixed rate fines being issued to 3,262 of those caught.

While following an initial common sense warning period, between November and January, 3,399 drivers were caught by cameras at City Square, averaging out at 1,133 a month, with fixed rate fines being issued to 785 of those caught.

Council previously came under heavy criticism at the initial launch off these cameras as 11,000 motorists were caught on Vicar Lane and 13,000 on City Square in their respective first month’s of operation.

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Warning campaigns for drivers getting used to the new city centre layout appear to be paying off however with numbers caught on both stretches largely trending down.

Drivers caught on Vicar Lane dropped by 82 per cent in November (1,676 to 301), while in the same month numbers on City Square trended down by 89 per cent (13,455 to 1,517).

This downward trend continued with a 41 per cent decrease from 1,517 to 894 on City Square in December but Vicar Lane saw a 149 per cent increase with 748 caught, up from 301 the previous month.

The penalty charge notice from the council stands at £70 – to be paid within 28 days, but this will reduce to £35 if paid within 14 days.

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A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “We are making these changes in the city centre to make it more pedestrian friendly, improve public realm, provide facilities for cyclists and to promote the use of public transport, increase bus patronage and improve air quality. Bus gates are being used to enforce some of the changes and follows lengthy periods of issuing warning notices and installation of multiple signs in advance of the restrictions. The schemes have also been extensively consulted on. Over time, we would expect the number of fines to reduce.

“We encourage motorists to plan ahead, there is lots of info on our website at A new route, a new Leeds: plan ahead and drivers are encouraged to use up-to-date satellite navigation for their journey’s or research alternative routes. We’re grateful to those who are already doing so."