Tory Government To Ban Parking Spy Cameras From Streets


spy carTory Government To Ban Parking Spy Cameras From Streets-Close Circuit Camera devices are meant to improve security for the people and not a cheap means of exploiting vulnerable motorists, according to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

According to him, the fixed cameras, popularly called spy cars used to catch people parking illegally could be banned in England by the government.

 Eric Pickles said he wanted to “rein in over-zealous and unfair rules”.

Static and car mounted cameras have been used to issue more than 10 million fines, totalling £301m, in the past five years, and the tactics, so exploitative of the members of the public may scrapped.

But desperate Councils already milking the public through the devices pounced back on the government claiming the  CCTV and camera cars played a road safety role, especially reducing traffic offences and guiding the children from accidents.

Some 75 councils currently have permission to use CCTV cameras or “approved devices” to enforce parking restrictions. The money spinning device is allowed and supported by a  Labour’s 2004 Traffic Management Act.

In those Councils,  a third of all parking fines are now issued via CCTV rather than by parking warden, case studies suggest. The tactics are so resented by members of the public that many have fought openly with on road operators wanting to trick them  

‘Natural justice’

Meanwhile, a study by the Audit Commission found one in three councils was earning more money through parking charges and school meals than council tax.

Mr Pickles and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, speaking ahead of his party’s annual conference, which starts on Sunday, said restrictions were damaging town centres while the tactics are being used  unfairly against motorists .

He announced a series of proposals including:

  • Banning static CCTV parking cameras and car mounted cameras, instead allowing only visible traffic wardens to film vehicles
  • Publishing “open data” on parking
  • Updating guidelines to help people use local shops more easily
  • Improving people’s “rights of redress” when fined inappropriately
  • Stopping “unacceptable and aggressive parking fine collection practices”
  • Reviewing “unnecessary” yellow lines

A Conservative Party briefing says using CCTV for parking enforcement “is detrimental to natural justice”, as penalty notices are received in the post “with no opportunity for the driver to examine the parking location as it was at the time of the alleged contravention”.

Councils have been accused of using parking fines as a money-making scheme

Mr Pickles said: “We want to rein in these over-zealous and unfair rules on parking enforcement, so it focuses on supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money.

“Parking spy cars are just one example of this and a step too far. Public confidence is strengthened in CCTV if it is used to tackle crime, not to raise money for council coffers.”

Mr McLoughlin added: “Labour’s ill thought-out policies have led to an increase in congestion and parking problems on our streets. By making sensible changes such as providing more parking spaces for local shoppers we can help ease traffic flow whilst supporting our vibrant high streets.

“Arbitrary parking rules force shoppers online or to out of town stores, causing lasting damage to local firms and small shops.”

‘Road safety’

But Tony Ball, of the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said parking controls were “not about revenue raising” but were “absolutely essential” for allowing people to leave their cars near shops or their homes.

He added: “Camera cars have been instrumental in keeping children from being hurt or killed on the way to school, and CCTV plays an important role elsewhere in monitoring traffic flow and keeping cars moving.

“Nobody likes getting a parking fine but the fact that less than 1% go to adjudication shows that in the vast majority of cases councils get it right.

“Income from on-street parking fines and charges is spent on parking services with any money left over spending on services like fixing potholes and providing subsidized bus travel for children and the elderly.”

Source: BBC News