Government to ban widespread use of 'spy cars' by councils


Neil Bowdler reports on the so-called spy cars, which the government is accused of using as a "cash cow"

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The widespread use of static and car-mounted cameras to catch drivers who park illegally in England is to be banned, the government has announced.

It says so-called "spy cars" have been used as a "cash cow" by councils, and it wants to end the "plague" of parking fines being sent in the post.

Instead traffic wardens will have to fix penalty notices to windscreens.

Councils will still be able to use the cameras near schools, in bus lanes and bus stops, and on "red routes".

Currently, some councils can use 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

'Fairer deal'

Announcing the measures, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the government was taking "urgently needed action to ban this clear abuse of CCTV".

"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.

"Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term," he said.

However, the Local Government Association says the cameras stop motorists parking dangerously and protect pedestrians.

Other proposals announced by the government include:

  • Trialling a 25% discount of the full price of their parking ticket for motorists who lose an appeal against a parking fine at tribunal
  • Giving local residents and firms the right to demand a review of parking in their area
  • Reforming parking guidance so it is less "heavy-handed" and to stop "over-aggressive" action by bailiffs
  • Maintaining a freeze on fixed penalty notices for the remainder of this parliament

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the measures would deliver a "fairer deal for motorists, ensuring that parking enforcement is proportionate, that school children are protected and buses can move freely, and that key routes are kept clear".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    The issue with spy cameras and tickets through the post is that they do not deal with the problem: if a car is parked illegally it should be removed from the spot to prevent it causing a problem and the owner charged for the true cost of removal plus the ticket fine for having done it. If it is not causing a problem then the regulation making it an illegal parking site should be removed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    The problem isn't really the use of the cars, it's the abuse of them. Like any system set up with the best of intentions, it all changes when it gets into the hands of those whose intentions are not so good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    illegally parked cars cause a hazard and block traffic so they should be ticketed / removed by whatever means. However, councils should provide sufficient free parking to encourage people to visit town centres rather than out of town shopping areas. I never visit our local town centre because I'm not being stung for the car parking fees and fined if I'm late, and I really don't miss it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    If you park illegally for whatever reason and no matter how short an amount of time, you should expect to pay a fine. Yellow lines etc are there for a reason .... safety of other people and road users. At least there will be more camera cars to sort out the problems near schools where inconsiderate parents abandon their cars on yellow lines and zigzags with no respect for other road users

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    I don't park illegally and don't see why others should get away with it. Roads should be kept clear for priority road users such as buses and emergency services. Local authorities should however be required to demonstrate this is their priority rather than random revenue raising.


Comments 5 of 9


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