A DRIVER who transports disabled children has been hit with 27 fines for driving in bus lanes – despite police telling him he was allowed to.
Thomas Renwick uses his nine-seater minibus to transport severely disabled youngsters to school in Edinburgh.
Despite police advising him that vehicles with more than seven passengers could use the city’s bus lanes, the 53-year-old has been slapped with a £1620 bill.
Thomas Renwick has been hit with 27 fines
The council, which recently switched on the cameras, insists that his vehicle needs ten passenger seats to be eligible, but said he could appeal the penalty.
His Volkswagen Transporter has been snapped in the lanes every day since a new crackdown was launched on April 23.
But the dad-of-two, who lives in Currie, has vowed to fight the fines in court rather than pay up.
He said: “When i got this vehicle two years ago I was told by Lothian and Borders Police I could use the lanes because I’m classed as a minibus – they said seven seats plus a driver is a minibus.
“So you can imagine how I felt when I got 27 tickets through the door.
“The police had told me one thing and now I’m being told another thing by the council. There’s no way I’m paying this, I’d rather take it to court.”
Mr Renwick claims police told him he could drive his minibus in the lanes
He also claims that he did not receive any warning letters during a three week grace period operated before the cameras were switched on.
Mr Renwick’s circumstances mirror those of a Midlothian minibus firm which is also appealing its fines.
Mark Gamrot (corr) also checked with officers that he was allowed to drive in the lanes, but was recently fined while transporting an autistic child into the city centre.
The 42-year-old said: “I’ve been stopped by police before, because Midlothian plates look different, but once they’ve checked my minibus documents they’ve apologised and said I could carry on.
“I’ve never been fined in three years. The firm has got Mercedes saloons and I’d never let them go in the lanes but I know my Renault Trafic Passenger is eligible. Now we’re told it’s actually nine seats and not eight.
“I’ll appeal these on the grounds the police have said my vehicles are fine. We’ll see what the council has to say.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Any driver who feels that they have been given a ticket incorrectly is encouraged to get in touch with us, and details about how to appeal are included with each fine.
“Information about which vehicles are exempt from bus lane fines is available on the council website.”
The council’s Transport leaders expected to catch around 4000 drivers a year after installing the cameras but more than 5000 fines were issued in the first week.
Yesterday it was reported that Janice Warnes was slapped with a £60 penalty after her 4×4 was snapped at 7.29am and 57 seconds, in a lane that came into force at 7.30am.
The 57-year-old was driving from the city centre when she briefly cut into the bus lane.