Merton Council made a potential £810,160 in the five months it left the Hartfield Road bus lane painted black, it has been revealed.

During a fight to overturn his fine for driving in the controversial bus lane, Matthew Stones obtained statistics released in response to a Freedom of Information request that showed a dramatic drop in fines since red tarmac was installed.

Mr Stones, who lives near Guildford and rarely visits Wimbledon, managed to overturn his fine for driving in the bus lane on February 23 because a warning sign was facing in the wrong direction.

In the five months before the bus lane in Hartfield Road was painted on March 7, an average of 58 fines were issued each day.

But, after March 7, this figure plunged to an average of just under 17 fines each day.

Assuming each fine is £130 (not including 50 per cent reductions for those who pay within two weeks) that means the council potentially pocketed £5,330 a day when the bus lane was black than when it was red.

Worked out over five months since the bus lane was created in November 2011, this comes to £810,160.

A Merton Council spokesman said: “The resurfacing work was done around March 7 this year as part of a scheduled programme of works.

"The reason the surfacing was not done until this time was because it had to be timed to coincide with other street works taking place.

“There is no legal requirement for the surface of the bus lane to be painted red to make it enforceable.

“The legal requirements are the signs advising that this is a bus lane, the legend bus lane within the section of road and the thick white line separating the bus lane from the rest of the highway.”

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