I was hit with £720 fines for driving through the Tyne Tunnel… but I live 300 miles away and have never been there

A DRIVER who was slapped with fines worth £720 for a location she's never visited said she felt sick as the costs piled up.

Susan Woodhead, who lives in Andover, Hampshire, was sent a series of penalty notices from the Tyne Tunnel.


The transport link is 300 miles from her home, and Susan has never driven there before.

Despite that, TT2 Limited bombarded her with around 12 'unpaid toll charge' fines, each worth £60 – and warned she'd be taken to court if she didn't pay up.

Susan, 69, told Chronicle Live she'd alerted police after the first notice was issued in early December as she feared she was being scammed.

"I was very concerned," she said.

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"I wondered whether it was a scam and someone was trying to get money out of me."

Cops confirmed the fine was real, but told Susan not to worry. However, the following day, she received another in the post.

She returned to the police station, where officers told her that the registration plate may have been cloned.

"Often, these cars with cloned numbers are used by gangs of criminals," she said.

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"Then I got three letters from the company all on the same day and all in different envelopes.

"They said that they'd put on the system that it wasn't my car and I wouldn't be fined, and should hear nothing further."

Despite that, she continued to receive fines throughout January.

After calling Tyne Tunnel directly, she was told cameras had misread the number plate of a different car as a result of a badly-placed screw.

The placement made the letter C appear as a G on cameras.

NOT FINE

As a result, it appeared to be Susan's vehicle.

TT2 has said "additional checks" are being put in place to make sure similar errors can't happen again.

"I'm not impressed with these people. It appears they can simply send things out and you have to react to them," Susan said.

"If you don't, you could end up with a court summons or bailiffs."

And she blasted TT2 for not being "accountable" to those it contacts with penalty notices.

PARK OFF

Susan isn't the only motorist wrongly targeted by the company.

One Lancashire pensioner who had never been through the tunnel was fined, while a Kent woman who hasn't ever travelled to the north-east also received a ticket.

Philip Smith, chief executive at TT2, blamed the mix-up on an inaccurate automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) reading.

"It was quashed on appeal and we are very sorry that Mrs Woodhead was inconvenienced and upset and we have apologised to her, personally," he said.

“We have put some additional checks in place to ensure this issue – where a C on Mrs Woodhead’s registration plate was read as a G, due to a bolt placement – does not happen again.

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“We would like to reassure tunnel users that, due to the high accuracy of our ANPR system, incorrect number plate readings are very rare and will always be rectified as soon as a customer appeals their UTCN. This means that no-one will ever have to pay for our error."

ANPR readings are correct "99.8 per cent of the time" while agents manually check around 5,000 readings a day, he said.

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