COUNCIL bosses have defended their use of ‘spy cars’ as the Government prepares to ban their widespread use.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced plans to take urgent action to ban the use of car-mounted cameras.
The ban will end unsuspecting motorists receiving fines by post and instead traffic wardens will have to fix penalty notices to windscreens.
But Sunderland City Council will be allowed to continue using the vehicle to catch drivers parking on zig zag lines outside schools, as this is permitted under the new plans.
“The recent decision by central government to limit the use of parking enforcement cars will have no effect on our current operations,” the council’s cabinet members for city services, Coun Michael Mordey, said.
“At present, Sunderland’s camera car is only used to enforce parking restrictions outside of the city’s schools.
“The aim of this clearly marked camera car has always been to provide a very visible reminder to motorists of the road safety message that cars should not park illegally outside schools on the School Keep Clear zig zag markings.
“The main objective of the camera car, provided jointly through the Go Smarter to School campaign and the Local Transport Plan, remains to patrol outside our schools to educate the public and raise road safety awareness.”
Some local authorities have been using CCTV cameras or ‘approved devices’ to enforce parking restrictions, under Labour’s 2004 Traffic Management Act.
The Government says nine million parking fines are now issued every year by local authorities in England and wants to rein-in “over-zealous parking enforcement practices”. The ban follows a three-month consultation
“CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls,” Mr Pickles said. “Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street and push up the cost of living.”