A COUNCIL dished out 75,029 fines for driving in bus lanes in a year.

The figure – for the 12 months from April 2018 – was nearly eight times that of the year before.

The staggering statistic was revealed in a report from Brighton and Hove City Council.

Between 2017 and 2018, it handed out 9,686 charges to drivers who strayed into the restricted lanes.

But in the same period between 2018 and 2019 the figure had soared.

In the Parking Annual Report, Labour Councillor Anne Pissaridou explained the reason for the dramatic jump.

She said: “This increase is due to the introduction of 24 new bus lane cameras which has allowed more coverage of bus lane enforcement throughout the city.”

The report says the number of bus lane penalty charge notices (PCN) issued was about 10,000 in the first month alone.

But then the figures dropped.

By the end of the financial year the council was giving out about half this figure – some 4,500 fines a month.

The council said the tens of thousands of extra tickets issued in the last year had resulted in a greatly increased number of appeals against its PCNs.

The tickets can be issued for a range of motoring misdemeanours including improper parking and stopping in areas such as bus stops.

Between 2017 and 2018 the council was challenged 35,120 times on these notices.

This rose to 51,964 between 2018 and 2019.

Of these, the council won 26 per cent, lost 29 per cent and the remainder were cancelled.

In August The Argus reported that Western Road in Brighton had made the council £206,000 with money from 7,628 bus lane fines last year, making it the most profitable road in the UK outside London.

But the council said it would “make no apologies” as the bus lanes serve a valuable purpose.

A spokesman said: “Bus lanes in the city are there for a number of important reasons – to ensure public transport runs efficiently, to reduce the number of cars and lorries in the city, cut dangerous fuel emissions and improve air quality in the city centre and to make the city safer for pedestrians.

“Western Road bus lanes are very clearly marked and there is plenty of obvious signage, so claims that

driving in a bus lane is a ‘simple mistake’ or an ‘accident’ to ‘extract money from motorists’ is wholly incorrect.

“As most cities in the UK have bus lanes and are also trying to reduce vehicle use, it is highly improbable that local drivers or those visiting the city don’t realise they cannot drive in our city centre.”

Much of the money from the fines is spent on providing free bus passes for older and disabled people, he said, adding: “It’s the same with any fine the council gives out.

“If someone is caught then they will be fined, and we make no apologies for this.”