Residents are “Fed Up” as Traffic Scheme sees Fines for Drivers Exceed £1 million

Residents in central Tunbridge Wells say they are “fed up” and “frustrated” by the failure of local councillors to sort out the problems they face due to the town centre’s traffic restrictions.

Local people looking for parking in the streets they live in must do a mile long diversionary loop involving 3 sets of traffic lights just to return to their road to hunt for suitable spaces a second time.

One resident of Dudley Road, Sally Atkinson, (pictured below) told West Kent Radio and Southborough News YouTube that: “We have been talking about this now for 15 months and absolutely nothing other than sitting on a lot of hands and a lot of vacuous words have been spoken…and nothing happens.”

Sall Atkinson

She continued: “Meanwhile, the residents of these streets spend an hour of their lives every day doing an unnecessary journey around town…thorough 3 sets of traffic lights and a roundabout in order to procure parking outside their home, for which they have paid for.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has now collected more than £ 1.5 million in fines from motorists who venture into the restricted “bus lane” area on Mount Pleasant outside the war memorial.

The revenue from the fines can only be used for future schemes to promote cycling and walking in the Borough.

Bus in Lane v2

The scale of the fines so far is huge, with the number of penalties issued roughly equivalent to the number of drivers in the Borough.

Many motorists appear to be unable to react to signs that are difficult to see amongst the pedestrians and buses they also need to watch out for in the town centre.

Below is one problematic spot where drivers have to deduce that they need to turn left and go over raised paving down a narrow road to avoid a fine.  Many go straight on down the wide Mount Pleasant Road only to pass the blue no entry sign 10 yards down the road.


The council says that the scheme has improved air quality and says the number of fines has dropped from 360 per day to less than 100 per day.

After a year of operation, around 60% of the penalty tickets are now sent to confused motorists from outside the Borough.

The number of Penalty Charge Notices issued (or PCNs) is shown below decreasing but still at 2,500 a month in March 2024. The council was initially cancelling fines for “first offenders” if they appealed immediately on receiving their PCN, but NOT if the drivers quickly paid the reduced £35 penalty charge and then decided they had been badly treated and tried to appeal.

PCNs Bus Lane

Google maps initially continued to direct motorists down the restricted area:


The Google maps app now correctly directs drivers in Dudley Road aiming for the Wagamama in Mount Pleasant Road around the extra 0.4 mile diversion through Monson road, Calverley Road and Crescent Road.

New Bus Lane route

Traffic entering Monson Road travelling east to west has to do a u-turn when it reaches Mount Pleasant during the restricted hours which are 9am to 6pm.

All political parties have been involved in the design of the scheme, officially known as Public Realm 2 or PR2.  It was originally planned under the Conservative council, while the fines began to be enforced after the formation of the coalition council grouping, which was led by the Liberal Democrats but also included Labour and Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party. Transport schemes are also overseen by the Conservative-controlled Kent County Council.


Meanwhile, local resident Sally Atkinson says she was not consulted about the design of the scheme before it was implemented.

She said: “It’s been very successful for the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council coffers. It’s been remarkably unsuccessful for any of the residents on the feeder roads, the businesses on Monson Road and for a lot of drivers that inadvertently go through the bus gate without realising they’ve done so.”

You can hear more of how Sally Atkinson says the issues can be solved by viewing her 8 minute interview:

The leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Ben Chapelard, spoke about the scheme a year ago about one minute 40 seconds into this 4 minute interview.

Southborough News