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Bride and gloom as wedding car driver fined over Belfast bus lane incursion at Europa Hotel

By Cate McCurry

Published 13/08/2015

Lisa and Liam Murray on their wedding day
Lisa and Liam Murray on their wedding day
The Europa hotel in Belfast

A newly-married couple called for authorities to spare their wedding chauffeur after he was hit with three separate penalties in less than two hours for taking them to their reception at Belfast's Europa Hotel.

Lisa and Liam Murray were hitched on July 4, and hired a vintage campervan for their big day at the Europa Hotel.

Weeks later, Star Car Hire was issued with three separate penalty notices after the vehicle was caught breaching new legislation for travelling an "unnecessarily long distance" along the bus lane.

At £45 for each fine, it could spell a costly journey, as heard on the BBC Stephen Nolan Show.

The vintage car was snapped indicating into the bus lane around 50 yards before the Europa to gain entrance to the busy Belfast hotel.

But 29-year-old Lisa has appealed to Transport NI, the body responsible for issuing parking fines, to reconsider.

"It's absolutely shocking, they were only doing their job and only want to get to their destination. It's just ridiculous.

"It never occurred to me at the time that they were doing anything wrong; how else are we suppose to get to the hotel?

"The drivers are having to get their guests to the front, the whole thing is so strange.

"The Europa is a busy hotel on a busy road and used by so many people, so it's difficult to manoeuvre around. I was shocked when I heard because it's their business and given that the fine is probably half of their costs, it's an expensive trip for them. I hope they get their money back."

Mike Barr (36), who owns the wedding car hire company, says the driver had no other option but to use the lane.

He has urged Transport NI to issue clearer guidlines for using the bus lane around that part of the city centre and claimed that current legislation was "not safe".

"It's just a daft area; you can't just stop there, because we would be holding up everyone else as you have to wait there for a space to clear.

"What they say is that we have to go on to that lane and cut across at a 90 degrees angle, which isn't safe. You don't want to have wedding passengers in the car and having to carry out dodgy movements, you want something smooth into the Europa. The current set-up is not workable and they need to stop the bus lane further up that main road.

"I also feel bus lanes are a grey area and the general public don't know enough either. I have contested the fine but it's being rejected and they told me there's no formal grounds for me to get off this. I don't want to pay it, so I'll write them another letter.

"It's too dangerous to turn left from an outside lane and we have a duty of care to the customer. We don't want an accident happening on their wedding day."

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