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Ban threat for parking camera cars

Source BBC News@

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

The government is looking at banning councils in England from using fixed cameras and what critics call spy cars to catch people parking illegally.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he wanted to "rein in over-zealous and unfair rules".

Static and spy-car cameras have been used to issue more than 10 million fines, totalling £301m, in the past five years, the Conservatives say.

Councils said CCTV and camera cars played a road safety role.

Some 75 councils currently have permission to use "approved" CCTV cameras to enforce parking restrictions, allowed 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 warden, case studies suggest.

'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 and being enforced unfairly.

He announced a series of proposals including:

  • Banning static CCTV parking cameras and spy cars, 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".

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."

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.

'Road safety'

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 spent on services like fixing potholes and providing subsidised bus travel to children and the elderly."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

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