Drivers fined for overweight vehicles on ancient bridge
Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service prosecuted four HGV drivers yesterday (June 19,2018) for breaching weight restrictions on protected roads in the county including two caught by cameras protecting the medieval Newbridge between Abingdon and Witney.
The offences took place in late 2017 and early 2018 and the drivers were given the following fines at Oxfordshire Magistrates’ Court.
Stephen Barnes (Reading) - Newbridge total fine, costs and victim surcharge = £480
Wlodzimierz Rowny (Swindon) - Newbridge total fine, costs and victim surcharge = £330
Neil Weller (Bridgend) - Appleford total fine, costs and victim surcharge = £470
Shane Norris (Hull)- Church Enstone total fine, costs and victim surcharge = £350
The offences in Church Enstone and Appleford were discovered when members of the public reported seeing the HGVs driving through the 7.5 tonne weight limit areas. Investigation by trading standards officers showed that the vehicles had no legitimate reason to be on those roads.
The offences at Newbridge were uncovered through the use of the number plate recognition camera system put in place in September last year – the first of its kind to be used for criminal investigation of road traffic offences.
In the first few months after the camera system went live, trading standards adopted am educative approach, identifying the operators of vehicles with a maximum plated weight of more than 18 tonnes (the safe limit for the bridge) and sending them written warnings.
Early this year it was decided that drivers and vehicle operators have had enough time to get used to the camera system and the long-standing restriction on the bridge and so the worst offenders are now investigated and, as with these two drivers, prosecuted. A further 13 drivers are awaiting trial.
The council intends that this should send out a tough message to road users that council tax payers should not have to foot the bill for repairs to roads which are not suited to heavy traffic and that HGV drivers should plan their routes to completely avoid weight-restricted roads in Oxfordshire where they have no legitimate reason to be.
Since September 2018 trading standards has sent out 466 warning letters and is actively investigating several offences. The number of overweight vehicles using the bridge has fallen from a high point of 90 a month last September to a low of 24 vehicles monthly in May this year, showing that this approach is having a real and beneficial effect.
While trading standards regularly carries out video-equipped checks on weight-restricted roads and bridges, residents can do their bit by reporting suspected offenders online. All reports are investigated and residents told of the outcome. More info at https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/weight-restriction-enforcement