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DRD 'admits' to an anomaly in law over access to Europa Hotel

By Cate McCurry

Published 13/08/2015

Extract from the letter sent by the DRD
Extract from the letter sent by the DRD

The fiancé of a public servant who was issued with a penalty notice has claimed that a Government official admitted there was no current legislation in place for drivers using a bus lane to access the Europa Hotel.

Mark McGookin, from Newtownabbey, contacted the Department for Regional Development (DRD) after his partner received a penalty notice because she pulled into the bus lane some eight metres before the hotel's entrance.

He asked for a copy of the legislation that states what circumstances the lane can be used, only to be told there was none in place.

Mr McGookin was then told the fine would be suspended and the matter investigated, but three weeks later they received correspondence from the DRD saying the fine had to be paid.

"We were then sent photographs which shows where she pulls into the bus lane," he explained.

"We were told it would be suspended until it is investigated for three weeks. We then got a letter back to say that 'it does not appear she turned into the Europa'. But she dropped her mother at the front of the hotel and I'm sure the Europa has images that could prove that.

"We decided just to pay the fine, but we were told by a senior DRD staff member that there was nothing in place and that they may have 'messed up' on this, which is very wrong.

"There are no markings on the road to say when exactly she can use that part of the lane to gain access. We are not disputing that she used the bus lane, but it refers to her 'travelling' along the lane, which we would argue because there's no other option but to use it.

"I want to know who is exempt from using bus lanes and in what situation are exceptions made. It's shocking and it has caused undue stress, as they were making allegations that are unfounded."

A Transport NI spokesperson said that penalty charge notices (PCN) were issued when "non-permitted vehicles are observed travelling an unnecessarily long distance within a bus lane".

A spokesperson added: "Drivers wishing to access properties or facilities adjacent to a bus lane are required to remain within the normal driving lane until they reach their intended destination and then cross the bus lane as near to a right angle as possible when safe to do so."

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