'Spy car' may be introduced to target illegal parkers in Blackburn with Darwen (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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'Spy car' may be introduced to target illegal parkers in Blackburn with Darwen
A ‘SPY CAR’ used to target illegal parkers could still be introduced in Blackburn with Darwen, despite the Government wanting to ban them.
The council has been trialling the controversial scheme this year, which could soon be rolled out across the borough.
The top target of the £50,000 vehicle, which has a CCTV camera attached to its roof, has seen parents stopping on double yellow lines outside schools, to drop off and pick up children.
It also uses automatic number plate recognition to issue fines of up to £70.
Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, has called for a ban on the cars, saying he wanted to ‘rein in over-zealous and unfair rules’. He said: “What this is about is raking in pretty large sums of money to fill the councils’ coffers.
“The law’s pretty clear. It says you’re not allowed to do that. What we’re going to do is enforce the law.”
Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has also blasted the cars, saying they ‘represents a very dangerous escalation in Britain’s surveillance society’. But other campaigners describe them as a useful ‘traffic tool’ which only catch people who are acting illegally.
Blackburn with Darwen’s transport boss Maureen Bateson said Mr Pickles’ comments were irrelevant, as the council’s plans were not about raising cash from fines. She said: “The pilot for this has been completed and using this type of car is still an option we are looking at. This is very much about improving road safety, especially near schools and in the town centre, and about keeping buses and traffic flowing on major routes.”
Some 75 councils have permission to use CCTV cameras or ‘approved devices’ to enforce parking restrictions, under Labour’s 2004 Traffic Management Act. In these areas, a third of all parking fines are now issued via CCTV rather than by parking wardens, studies suggest.
Council leader Kate Hollern said: “This is something we are looking at in terms of road safety, it’s not about raising money for the council.”
Conservative group leader Mike Lee said: “We think this is a good idea, provided its used to improve road safety in the borough and deal with things like parking near schools, but not to raise revenue for the council.”
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