‘Can we shift blame for Moor End Road boob?’

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COUNTY council bosses are being urged to shift some of the blame for the Moor End Road traffic camera blunder onto a private company.

Herts County Council works in partnership with engineering firm Mouchel to run Herts Highways, which set up the bus lane.

County Councillor Nick Hollinghurst, a Liberal Democrat, called on the Conservative administration during a full meeting of the council last week to recover cash from Mouchel.

He said: “Will the leader of the council agree to take steps to recover the resulting losses to Herts County Council from the relevant Herts Highways partner, namely Mouchel?”

Stuart Pile, cabinet member for highways and transport, said after the meeting: “At the moment we are investigating our options.”

The council is in the process of writing to thousands of motorists fined for using the bus lane to arrange refunds after the scheme was ruled unlawful.

Almost 35,000 fines have been issued since the camera went live last August and it could potentially cost £1.26 million of taxpayers’ cash to refund them all.

This follows a ruling from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal that said the signs and traffic order used to set up the scheme were wrong.

Unclaimed fines will be given to charity while motorists will be given the option of donating their fines.

Critics point out that problems with the scheme were highlighted shortly after it came into force but no action was taken by the county council, while the Liberal Democrats have called for Mr Pile to resign over the fiasco.

Mouchel has a turnover of £551.4 million and works with local authorities across the UK offering infrastructure and business services.

Melanie Bright, head of public relations at Mouchel, said: “We are not in a position to comment.”