WARRINGTON Borough Council could net £290,000 after 4,839 fines were handed out to motorists illegally driving in bus lanes on Knutsford Road and lower Bridge Street.

Automatic number plate recognition cameras are currently operating on Knutsford Road, lower Bridge Street and Faraday Street bus gate in Birchwood, with other locations in the pipeline.

Owners of vehicles who use the bus lanes unlawfully can face a charge of £60, or £30 if paid within 14 days.

As previously reported, between July 24 and August 31 last year, 1,511 penalty charge notices were issued to motorists caught by the Knutsford Road camera, which operates between 7.30am and 9.30am, Monday to Saturday.

If each were paid at £30 it would have brought in £45,330 for the council – but the figure could have doubled to £90,660 if paid at £60.

The authority could not reveal how many fines had been paid at £30, £60, or appealed.

This week, it has confirmed that 2,494 fines were issued at the site between September 1 and January 31, while a total of 909 warning notices were given between November 13 and November 27 on lower Bridge Street, which is in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But between November 28 and January 31, 2,345 penalties were handed out to motorists using the town centre road.

Overall, it takes the number of fines handed out at the two sites since September 1 to 4,839.

If each have been paid at £30 it would bring in £145,170 for the council – but the figure could double to £290,340 if paid at £60.

The council said the enforcement is aimed at reducing journey times for bus services, while 'improving their punctuality and thereby encouraging more people to use buses for their journeys'.

A spokesman added: "There are plans to introduce enforcement cameras at other locations, the next of these is planned in the near future on the bus gate on Winwick Street, next to the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

"With regard to Wilderspool Causeway, detailed work is underway to review this bus lane – once this work is concluded then it is expected that enforcement will be introduced later this year.

"There are no plans for enforcement to be introduced at other locations at this time.

"On all of the locations where bus lane enforcement has been introduced, compliance is improving with the number of penalty charge notices being issued at both locations steadily decreasing."

Amid budget cuts from Government, the authority's £136.83 million budget for 2018-19 includes £15.5 million worth of savings.

It estimates that it will bring in at least £200,000 from penalty charge notices issued to motorists unlawfully driving in bus lanes this year.