CAMERAS could be used to deter drivers from misusing bus lanes in County Durham.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to support the authority assuming responsibility for enforcement of bus lane restrictions from Durham Constabulary and to introduce camera monitoring, when it meets next Wednesday.

The meeting will hear the council regularly receives complaints about contraventions and lack of enforcement of bus lanes, particularly North Road in Durham, from councillors, residents, bus companies, taxi drivers and the Durham Licensed Taxi Association.

Last July, an exercise was carried out in which CCTV coverage of North Road was monitored and found to show 66 contraventions in a nine hour period.

Police also receive regular complaints about contravention of bus lanes and other locations where No Entry Except Buses exist. However the demands on police officers’ time reduces their availability to carry out enforcement.

If the council takes on the role, police can free up resources for core duties.

The proposal is to introduce a redeployable camera which uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition.Seven of eleven other North East authorities either have or plan to use a static, manual or redeployable camera.Initially deployed at North Road, it would be moved around the county’s various bus lanes on a rotational basis.

Officers envisage enforcement taking the form of £60 penalty charge notices– reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

A report to the meeting also outlines how the council could improve signage at bus lanes so motorists know where they are and that camera enforcement is to come.

In the first month of the camera being at North Road, the council will also issue warning notices for first offences rather than penalty charges.

Councillors will also be told that while the council expects to detect a high number of contraventions at first, compliance is likely to increase and contraventions reduce as time goes on and motorists become aware of the camera.

Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We get so many people complaining to us about motorists abusing bus lanes across the county and we know the police do too.

“We believe having a camera is the best way to stop people misusing them. Reducing the number of unauthorised vehicles on North Road will both improve road safety and also help our public transport operators by reducing bus journey times and improving the reliability of the network, which will in turn increase use of sustainable transport and help the environment by reducing pollution.”