Just one month of fines issued to drivers straying into bus lanes netted Swindon Borough Council more than £100,000.

Research by care hire company Northgate Vehicle Hire shows the authority made an average income of more than £80,000 every month between June 2017 and December 2018, issuing an average of 2,738 tickets.

The most lucrative month of the 18 included was November 2018, which raked in £106,000 from 3,644 tickets issued.

That put Swindon in the top 10 for most money made in a month by those councils which answered a Freedom of Information request sent to more than 300 town and city halls.

It came in seventh, behind Manchester, Wolverhampton, four London boroughs and Sheffield.

A Swindon council spokesman said: “If people didn’t drive in bus lanes we wouldn’t issue any fines. Bus lanes are there for a reason – to improve bus journey times and increase their reliability.

“Ultimately, we want people to see buses as a more attractive option than the car to help reduce congestion on our roads and improve air quality. Any money received from bus lane fines is invested back into road and transport-related projects.”

Robert Harrold, who lives in Trowbridge, lodged an FoI request with Euclid Street after his wife Helen was fined for driving into the bus gate outside the Designer Outlet on Rodbourne Road.

That request revealed the council had made more than £2.5m over five years from fines for entering that bus lane alone.

Mr Harrold said: “I did ask the council, but it didn’t tell me, how many people fines were deliberately driving in the bus lane, and how many were caught there by accident while looking for somewhere to park and go shopping.”

With November being the business month for fines, it seems likely that at least some of the drivers caught out were people intending to do some Christmas shopping in town, particularly – as the Harrolds intended – at the Designer Outlet.

Mr Harrold said while the fines were making money for the council there could be unintended consequences.

He said: “It’s definitely put us off from going shopping in Swindon again. I wonder whether quite a high proportion of people were visitors who were caught out, and were innocently trying to get into the car park.

"If lots of people like that are fined, it could have an effect, with people deciding to go elsewhere. It feels almost as if it’s a stealth tax to make the council more money.”