BRADFORD Council has responded to accusations that bus lane and parking fines are "nothing more than a cash cow" as data revealed a year on year increase.

In the past five years nearly 730,000 tickets were sent out to motorists across the district. Out of this number, 337,046 were on or off street parking offences and 392,465 were bus lane fines.

Year on year figures show a rise from 106,418 in 2017/2018 to 144,742 in 2019/2020, according to a Freedom of Information request from Bradford Council by Shipley MP Philip Davies.

Mr Davies has since called for "consistency across West Yorkshire" and for bus lanes to be taken out of action on bank holidays.

Bradford Council responded by saying the district's bus lanes are "active on Bank Holidays" and that this is "normal practice up and down the country in Tory and Labour authorities alike".

The local authority lost an estimated £349,394.77 in parking ticket fines during lockdown, data from Leasefetcher shows.

It follows a report from the T&A in May that wardens would not be returning to the streets of Bradford until after the lockdown ended - despite Leeds Council's announcement that their wardens had returned to work.

The Council wardens only carried out limited enforcement duties, it said, and many wardens were redeployed to provide the extra support needed across the district during this period.

Upon seeing the data, Mr Davies said: “Too often these fines are used as a cash cow for councils cashing in on motorists, especially when it comes to bus lanes. There is no need for bus lanes to be operational all the time and I have made this point on many occasions to Bradford Council.

“I have been given many excuses as to why the bus lanes are constantly enforced, ranging from they have to be in place on a Bank Holiday because buses run on Bank Holiday to there needs to be consistency across West Yorkshire to prevent confusion for drivers as apparently this will stop people appealing as everyone will know all bus lanes are enforced. Why not just scrap them on a Bank Holiday that would solve the problem of appeals as there would not be any as no motorist would be fined.

"The Council knows full well bus lanes do not need to be operational on a Bank Holiday and it is about time the Council do what is right for once. Everyone is aware roads are significantly quieter on Bank Holidays than usual weekdays. It is nothing more than a cash cow used to generate money and the Council must think again.”

The MP accused the council of “trying to fleece as much money out of motorists as possible”, adding that the collected fines were an "eyewatering amount".

Penalty Charge Notices for off or on street parking can be between £50 and £70 depending on the severity of the offence and bus lane fines are £60. If paid within 14 days both types of fines are halved.

Mr Davies added: “This is an absolutely eyewatering amount of money the Council are collecting from motorists. I want to see parking enforcement scrapped on Bank Holidays to encourage people to come into towns and support our shops and put money into local businesses not in the pockets of Bradford Council.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “As a council we support public transport and as buses and emergency services vehicles that use the lanes are active on Bank Holidays so are the bus lanes. This has been in place for years and the vast majority of motorists will be aware that the bus lane is active at the times clearly stated on the many signs you can see along each lane. This is something that is quite normal practice up and down the country in Tory and Labour authorities alike.”