Fears have been raised a new town centre bus gate could become a lucrative money spinning ‘fine trap’ for drivers.

A new bus gate – a section of road which only buses and authorised vehicles can travel through – has been set up in Southernhay Basildon.

The only vehicles able to travel through the bus gate are buses, Hackney Carriage taxis, motorcycles and bicycles.

Basildon Independent Group councillor Kerry Smith has raised fears the road may be used as a “cash machine” for Essex County Council (ECC) following a similar scheme in Chelmsford.

The notorious Duke Street bus gate, set up in August 2017, took in £1.5 million in 54,000 fines in its first 18 months in operation.

In 2019 psychologist Bernadine King successful won an appeal against her fine after arguing there were too many signs to process with the tribunal agreeing signage was “inadequate”.

“A resident managed to take the county council to court and beat them because it was clearly proved it was a fine trap to catch out motorists with poor signage,” Mr Smith said.

“I want to make sure the signage is absolutely spot on so no innocent driver who is confused by the layout gets a fine in the post. I don’t want it to be a cash machine for the county council.”

Mr Smith also raised concerns over the county council’s decision to ban private hire drivers from using the road – a move ECC ruled out after claiming it would cost £50,000 in signage and adaptations to accommodate.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “The bus gate restrictions which have been introduced in Southernhay, Basildon, are designed to increase sustainable transport usage and to improve the attractiveness of the town centre.

“Private hire vehicles make an important contribution to travel for local residents, but there is a balance in keeping to a reasonable minimum the volume of vehicles using this area to avoid congestion and improve quality of life in the town centre generally.

“As part of the installation of the new bus gate, clear signage and road markings have been installed in the area advertising the new rules for this part of Basildon.”