A CONTROVERSIAL ‘spy’ car is set to crackdown on illegal parkers and motorists driving in bus lanes.

Mums and dads stopping on double yellow lines outside schools to drop off and pick up children will be a top target of the vehicle in Blackburn and Darwen.

The £50,000 plus council car would be able to capture offending motorists on camera and use automatic number plate recognition to issue fines of £60 or £70 a time.

The device would mean tickets could be issued for the first time without a parking warden present.

Borough transport chief Dave Harling said that officials were working on a plan to bring in the spy car as well as the use of a small number of movable CCTV cameras.

The scheme will be put before senior councillors in November.

Coun Harling said thoughtless school run parents would be a major target for the car.

To use the car, Blackburn with Darwen Council will have to get special permission from Whitehall to become one of just over 20 local authorities outside London to have “remote enforcement” powers over parking offences and illegal driving in bus lanes.

It would then take six months to a year to get permission from the Transport Department in London.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw welcomed the proposal despite having being fined £60 after being caught by a similar car in London earlier this year.

Borough Tory opposition leader Mike Lee said: “It is a good idea, provided it is used for improving road safety rather than raising revenue.”

The vehicle, similar to one that has sparked angry controversy in Bolton since its introduction in 2009, would also be used to combat reckless parking on ‘dangerous’ routes.

The Bolton vehicle has been criticised for raising £250,000 a year, with 4,000 tickets costing £70 being issued each year - despite many being subsequently cancelled.

Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch said: “The CCTV car represents a very dangerous escalation in Britain’s surveillance society. These vehicles are sent out to catch people and make money, with road safety only an afterthought.”

Coun Harling said: “We need to apply for special powers to use this type of car and also to fix small cameras to lamposts or traffic lights to tackle hotspots. It would be much quicker and easier than using patrol officers.

“We are talking about improving road safety, especially near schools, not raising money.

“The car, which would costs tens of thousands of pounds to buy and run, and cameras would deal with illegal parking in the town centre and driving bus lanes as well.

“If we go ahead in November it would take six months to a year to get the necessary approvals and bring in.”

Mr Straw said: “It’s a good idea. It works well in London. I say that despite being caught inadvertently driving in a bus lane by one recently and having to pay a £60 fine. It improves road safety and helps the traffic flow smoothly.”