The ‘entrance’ to a UK McDonald’s that’s cost drivers £500k | UK | News

Trostre Roundabout in Llanelli, where motorists have paid more than £500k in fines in just 12 months (Image: Google)

A roundabout exit in Wales has cost thousands of drivers a whopping half a million pounds in just one year. On a cloudy day in Carmarthenshire, I decided to treat myself to a coffee from McDonald’s on my way home from an interview in Llanelli.

Little did I know, it would turn out to be the most expensive coffee I’ve ever bought.

It was lunchtime on November 29 last year. I was driving north on the B4304 (Trostre Road) away from the Machynys area.

As I approached Trostre Roundabout, a big yellow McDonald’s sign caught my eye. It brightened up the gloomy day and tempted drivers to pull off and use its drive-thru facility.

The weather was dreary, and I wasn’t familiar with the roads in Llanelli. So, I drove around the roundabout and took the exit right next to the McDonald’s sign, reports Wales Online.

I then took a left into the drive-thru, got my coffee, and headed home. You can keep up to date with the latest Carmarthenshire news by signing up to the local newsletter here.

A week later, on December 6, I got a letter from Carmarthenshire Council. They said I had driven down a bus lane and sent me a fine.

I was surprised because I didn’t remember doing that. But they even sent me a photo of my car in the bus lane.

The fine was for £70, but if I paid it within 21 days, it would only be £35. I didn’t argue with the fine because I knew I had done wrong.

But I was still upset.

The roundabout in Wales (Image: Google)

When you get close to the roundabout, there are signs that show a small blue circle with a picture of a bus and the words ‘Yn unig/only’ next to it. The same small blue circle is at the start of the exit, and there are words on the road that say ‘buses only’.

But when I looked on Google Maps, I saw that these words have faded over time.

I admit, I couldn’t argue against the ticket. But, the exit is right next to a McDonald’s sign, and there are signs showing the speed limit at the start of the bus lane, which also has big signs for Parc Trostre.

The problem for me was that it looked like the way into the McDonald’s restaurant because it’s right next to it. In fact, to get to the McDonald’s (without breaking any rules!

) you have to take another exit (which takes you away from the restaurant) and go through two smaller roundabouts and then turn off into Parc Trostre Retail Park on the third roundabout to head back towards the restaurant.

That’s a lot of effort just for a coffee.

Wondering if I was the only one who had been silly enough to get caught out by this, I shared my roundabout troubles on social media. There were hundreds of responses, some of which helpfully pointed out that it’s a bus lane, there are signs, and told me to basically get over it.

But many others were more understanding and somewhat glad that someone else had been caught out in the same way.

One motorist chimed in: “My husband got caught too, he is not from Wales but a driver all his life. The sign is not clear enough, it should be a no entry one with a sign below saying access only for buses and taxis,”. Further, another said: “I got caught in the bus lane last month – I have never been to Parc Trostre before so didn’t know the entry in, I won’t be going there again”.

A disgruntled motorist added: “Yes, there is a lot of signage…..but the main sign I see is for Parc Trostre, then oops you’ve driven up there.”

The roundabout was called a ‘cash trap’ for the local council (Image: Google)

Another person called it a “cash trap” for the council, while another complained: “I hadn’t seen the signage then looked the next time and it was obvious – but I think in the moment I was looking for the McDonald’s entrance so I didn’t register the signs. It’s also harder to see in the dark and I think it would be dangerous to abort your decision once you’d seen the signs. £70 is brutal.”

Expressing agreement, yet another driver wrote: “This happened to me! Couldn’t believe it! It’s easy to see the signage once you realise, but there are so many signs around there. If you’re not familiar with the area and are also trying to work out where you’re going, it’s easy to just turn too soon and it’s then too late to do anything as you can’t suddenly stop or reverse onto the roundabout. I rang the council and a very nice lady said – ‘oh my goodness, so many people do this all the time’.”

A lady told WalesOnline about her fine on a roundabout, saying: “The bus lane doesn’t start until after you have left the roundabout and you are then effectively unable to do anything other than drive through it, as to reverse back on to the roundabout to avoid it would be dangerous. Although I have paid the reduced fine of £35 as I do not want to risk further costs and aggravation, I feel very much that this ticket is unfair as it was not clear enough and it feels like a bit of a trap that is there to make money – a modern day highway robbery.”

Someone suggested that maybe a big red ‘no entry’ sign could help better, with words underneath for buses and taxis only. This would make it clearer for car drivers who are the ones mostly using the roundabout.

At the other end of the bus lane, by McDonald’s, there are two ‘no entry’ signs and writing on the ground too. It doesn’t say it’s for buses but makes it obvious you shouldn’t go down there in a car.

It seems like nobody gets caught out at that end.

One person wrote online: “I use this roundabout almost daily and have witnessed countless drivers making the same mistake. I’d be intrigued to see the yearly count on just how many made that mistake – it’s a farce!”.

Meanwhile, from December 2022 to November 2023, Carmarthenshire Council got over £500,000 in fines because drivers went into the bus lane at Trostre Roundabout. If you look back a bit further to August 2022, records show that 15,112 drivers were caught in the bus lane up until December 2023.

It looks like there might really be a problem with the signs!

I admit, I didn’t fight my fine because I was in the wrong. It’s a bus lane and it’s clearly marked.

I also admit that I didn’t read the sign as I approached the roundabout (honestly, I know the way back to Carmarthen, so why would I?)

My main problem is that if you’re not familiar with the area, especially the roundabout, there’s a big chance you’ll make an expensive mistake (just ask the other 15,000 drivers).

So maybe, just maybe, the council could be reasonable and let off first-time offenders who have obviously made an innocent mistake?

After all, if you park on a double yellow line, even for two minutes, you’re taking a risk because you know you’re doing something wrong. At Trostre Roundabout, I had no clue I was doing anything wrong, not until a week later, and I guess the thousands of other drivers caught out didn’t either.

Councillor Edward Thomas has hit back at complaints about drivers being fined, saying: “All of our traffic signs are compliant with the relevant regulations. The bus lane is accessed from Trostre Roundabout, and we have ensured that all approach roads to the roundabout include advance signs warning approaching drivers that one of the accesses off the roundabout is restricted. On the roundabout itself, the presence of the bus lane is then clearly shown with appropriate signs which are reinforced with additional carriageway markings on a red surface.”

He also said: “If a motorist feels they have been unfairly issued with a penalty charge notice they are able to appeal to the parking appeal service which is an independent body. Bus lanes help to ensure smoother traffic flows by giving buses priority over other vehicles. This is especially important in congested urban areas like Llanelli where traffic congestion is a significant issue. Overall, the enforcement of bus lanes plays a vital role in efficient, reliable, and sustainable public transport, which are essential for the well-being of Carmarthenshire residents.”

So, the traffic signs are “compliant with the relevant regulations” and “bus lanes help to ensure smoother traffic flows”. But are these signs clear enough?

And while no one I’ve spoken to doubts the need for bus lanes, many are puzzled about how they ended up driving down a specific one in Trostre.

As I’ve said, I was in the wrong and paid my fine without arguing, learning a costly lesson: I will never again be fined for driving down the bus lane off Trostre Roundabout, but I’m sure others, who don’t know about the bus lane or aren’t familiar with the roundabout, will be.

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