Ban on car parking cameras and 'spy cars' considered in England

 

Roy Tunstall, from Liverpool City Council, says CCTV vans act as a "high-visibility deterrent"

Related Stories

Fixed cameras and what critics call spy cars used to catch people parking illegally could be banned in England.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he wanted to "rein in over-zealous and unfair rules", and that traffic wardens with cameras could do the job instead.

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

Councils say the cameras help to keep roads safe, especially near schools.

The law could be changed "well before Easter", Mr Pickles told the BBC.

Start Quote

Camera cars have been instrumental in keeping children from being hurt or killed on the way to school”

End Quote Tony Ball Local Government Association

Some 75 councils currently 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, case studies suggest.

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.

Ahead of the Tories' annual conference, which starts on Sunday, Mr Pickles said restrictions were damaging town centres and being enforced unfairly.

The party has 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".

Mr Pickles added: "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."

Civil liberties campaigners called for a "serious debate" about what they said was the UK's "uniquely high level of CCTV surveillance".

"Councils should be transparent with residents about how many tickets are being issued with CCTV and how many criminals are being convicted," said Nick Pickles from the Big Brother Watch group.

"That way residents can decide for themselves if they really are better off with the cameras watching them."

'Law is clear'

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

'Hostility'

In response, Mr Pickles told BBC Breakfast: "It's okay for local authorities to say 'oh, it's all to save the children'. No it isn't. 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."

But road safety charity Brake said it made "very little financial or common sense" to remove cameras "which make our roads safer".

"We know that cameras are a very cost-effective way of enforcing traffic laws, while having individual officers trying to cover the same amount of work would cost a bomb," said senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth.

Meanwhile, motoring groups suggested parking policies were designed to make profit rather than improve roads.

"What really irritates drivers is the street-level hostility they feel is being waged against them," said AA president Edmund King.

"Drivers feel that civil enforcement officers are lurking in every street and are not there to deter them but to issue a ticket as soon as the driver's back is turned."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation added: "Nobody wants a parking free for all, but they do want reasonable charges and fairness, whatever method is used to achieve it."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 493.

    I agree with most here that restriction are there for a reason and people blatantly ignoring them should be stopped. However there is a significant problem with councils or companies using it to make money to catch people in less obvious situations. Parking restrictions must be well justified, clear and simple to understand. Some areas there are 100s of signs on the same road, its impossible.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 397.

    Stuck in a car park at motorway services because of major traffic holdups and couldn't get out within the allowed time frame. Penalty ticket issued. They won't revoke it. The camera never lies but it can't reason like a human being. Big brother at it's worst and a license to print money.

  • rate this
    +86

    Comment number 172.

    Drivers (including myself) should park legally and responsibly. Only the selfish think it's acceptable to do otherwise. Parking restrictions are there to aid traffic flow, vehicle manoeuvring, vehicular access, pedestrian safety, etc. Why should identifying violators not use current technology?

  • rate this
    +109

    Comment number 156.

    Seems to me no one has a big issue with getting a ticket if they do overstay when parking, but the size of the fine is disproportionately high for minor violations and too low for major violations.. - dangerous parking/park on a bus lane during rush hour/park on a zebra crossing shouldn't be considered the same overstay 10 minutes on a meter. The fine should fit the violation....

  • rate this
    +74

    Comment number 13.

    My local council have just made the entire area where I work residents permit only and there is not even any pay parking for half a mile! I do wonder sometimes what planet they are on when they question why town centres are dead.

 

Comments 5 of 6

 

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    @FrankRGardner Frank Gardner

    tweets: We'll be discussing the UK Govt's controversial 'Prevent' strategy to counter extremism at 0830 on @BBCr4today

     
  2.  
    08:08: UK 'needs own Abraham Lincoln' The Guardian

    Over on the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues the UK needs its own Abraham Lincoln. If Britain proves to be "a house divided against itself" in coming years, especially with the rise of nationalism, "it will also require someone to fill Lincoln-sized shoes if the house is to continue to stand, both within these islands and in the union with Europe", he says. But he's not confident David Cameron or Ed Miliband have shown they can match the former US president's oratory skills. You can read his piece here.

     
  3.  
    08:04: Chuka: Selfies "keep it real"
    Chuka Umunna MP

    In an interview with House magazine, Chuka Umunna has praised the selfie. He said: "The thing about selfies is so often you do these posed, formal shots whereas when you are doing a group shot like that, it's a little bit more relaxed, you keep it real. Certainly with young people, it just relaxes the whole thing. And that is what my constituents say: keep it real."

    The Shadow Business Secretary also told House that he finds it awkward being praised for his looks: "I feel a little bit awkward, if I'm honest about it". He added: "It amuses my family, my friends take the piss out of me royally about it."

     
  4.  
    07:53: Bennett interview 'a serious failure' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News
    Natalie Bennett

    The stumbling performance by Green leader Natalie Bennett in a radio interview last month was a "serious failure" that showed she had failed to prepare and left her colleagues "taken aback", according to the Green leader on Liverpool City Council John Coyne.

    He told the BBC it wouldn't happen again as Ms Bennett would in future rehearse her performance in mock interviews.

    Mr Coyne said: "It's a failure that she was underprepared we know why that happened and we know it will be fixed for the future."

    The criticism comes as Greens meet in Liverpool for their spring conference, gathering in the Liverpool Riverside constituency - which they are targeting at the general election - and where Mr Coyne is a sitting councillor.

    Mr Coyne is chair of the Green Councillors Association and was the first Green on Liverpool council after defecting from the Liberal Democrats.

    He said: "It was a serious failure and we thought it might be damaging to us but one thing that perhaps is saving us from that is people who are attracted to the Green Party tend to have a more generous disposition anyway."

    Asked about the reaction of Greens to a performance he described as "excruciating" he said: "We were taken aback but again in the Green Party we are compassionate and it certainly helped to indicate that we have someone who's a human being."

    Bennett apologised to members after the interview.

     
  5.  
    07:47: Globalisation driving immigration

    Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani digests today's immigration story on his blog. He writes: "The old way of thinking about immigration and how it affects the UK needs to be tossed into the dustbin."

    He adds: "Today's migrants - particularly those from Eastern Europe - may be found in all manner of locations because of the effects of globalisation and the single market."

    Research from Oxford University shows immigration has increased the population of England by half a million in the past three years.

     
  6.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Green leader Natalie Bennett will do mock interviews in future to prepare, Liverpool councillor tells me before Liverpool conference

     
  7.  
    07:41: John Major on SNP The Daily Telegraph
    John Major

    Sir John Major has also been giving his views on the rise of the SNP in Scotland. The former Tory prime minister, writing in this morning's Telegraph, says Ed Miliband should rule out a coalition with the nationalists. He says "the SNP would enter into any agreement with Labour with one overriding aim: to break up the United Kingdom". You can read the Telegraph's news story here and Sir John's piece here.

     
  8.  
    @Number10gov UK Prime Minister

    tweets: PM: To everyone in the UK, India and around the world celebrating the festival of colour and arrival of spring, I wish you a happy #Holi!

     
  9.  
    07:30: John Humphrys in Watford BBC Radio 4 Today

    In the latest of Today's 100 seats in 100 days series, John Humphrys has visited Watford to explore what effect marketing has on voter choices. You can listen to his package here.

     
  10.  
    07:23: Plaid to demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland
    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM

    Plaid Cymru say they will demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland in any post-election Westminster coalition talks.

    At the party's spring conference in Caernarfon, party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year.

    More on this.

     
  11.  
    07:16: Labour's video mocking PM on debates You Tube

    Paul Waugh from Politics Home has tweeted a video from Labour contrasting David Cameron's positive and negative stances to TV debates.

     
  12.  
    07:06: PM's debates decision shows "aristocratic contempt" The Guardian
    David Cameron MP

    John Harris takes up Nick Clegg MP's "Downton Abbey" characterisation of David Cameron's decision on the debates in his column in today's Guardian.

    Harris writes of the PM: "Once he styled himself as a leader who was open and up for a challenge; now he looks more than ever like a cold power politician with a tinge of aristocratic contempt for rules and rituals that need only apply to others."

    Clegg told LBC radio yesterday: "I can't get over the lofty pomposity of the Conservatives. It's as if they think they are ordering a drink in the drawing room of Downton Abbey, telling everybody else what they should do."

     
  13.  
    07:00: SNP influence 'desirable' BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ewan Crawford, a former SNP special adviser, says the trouble for Labour is they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Conservatives during the referendum. At the time, they said there would be no threat to public services and promised "strength and security", Mr Crawford argues, but now they say the Tories would be a disaster. Mr Crawford says the SNP would push Labour to do what Labour actually wants to do. And SNP influence on a Labour government is "desirable", he adds.

     
  14.  
    06:56: Labour MP on Scotland polls BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ian Murray, a Labour MP in Edinburgh, is speaking about the latest polls, which indicate a disastrous result for his party in Scotland could be coming. He admits if his party loses Scotland, Ed Miliband won't be prime minister. He says Labour doesn't want or need a coalition with the nationalists.

     
  15.  
    06:51: Parking leeway introduced

    The government has announced drivers will be given 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, says he wants to end the "war on drivers". The leeway is set to take effect later this month. And it will apply to free and paid-for parking spaces both on streets and in off-street car parks. More here.

     
  16.  
    06:46: Greens 'bigger than UKIP'

    As the Green party heads to Liverpool for their conference today, it's worth remembering that they are believed to have more members than UKIP. In January BBC Online reported the party had 43,829 members compared with UKIP's 41,966. We'll be covering the Green party conference throughout the day.

     
  17.  
    06:41: The papers
    Daily Mail and i front pages on 06/03/15

    This morning's national newspapers feature a number of political stories. Alex Kleiderman has the newspaper review here.

     
  18.  
    06:34: 'UK must support Hong Kong'
    Hong Kong

    The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has urged the government to speak up in support of democracy in Hong Kong or risk damage to the UK's reputation there. The MPs said they were "profoundly disappointed" at ministers' response when China blocked committee members from visiting the former UK colony. Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said the UK wanted democratic "transition". More here.

     
  19.  
    06:28: Greens moot alliance with SNP
    Caroline Lucas

    The Greens are expected to call for a "progressive alliance" with the SNP at their party conference in Liverpool later today.

    Green Party MP and former leader Caroline Lucas will say: "With the rise of the SNP, and with our own Green surge, we have the chance to forge a new grouping in Parliament. A progressive alliance.

    "Of course, in Scotland and in Wales we'll be fighting hard for our distinctive values and policies. Just as we do against those individual Labour and even Lib Dem candidates with whom we have something in common." More here.

     
  20.  
    06:18: 'England's population up'

    A major analysis by the University of Oxford estimates that the population of England has risen by 565,000 since 2011 because of immigration. The Migration Observatory unit says it came up with the projections because similar official data will not be available before the general election. Two-thirds of the rise is attributed to people from the European Union. We'll bring you all the reaction.

     
  21.  
    06:13: Good morning from Westminster

    Hello and welcome to Friday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Sarah Weaver will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Thursday unfolded.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.