Plymouth council hits back at Pickles over the use of camera cars
PLYMOUTH council is at odds with a call by Local Government Minister Eric Pickles to ban the use of so called "spy cars".
Mr Pickles said he wanted to "rein in" the "overzealous and unfair rules on parking enforcement, so it focuses on supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money".
He rounded on councils claiming "parking spy cameras 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 officers."
Plymouth City Council uses a number of enforcement cameras including a camera car which patrols the city recording offenders. Council leader, Tudor Evans tweeted his response to the news, claiming it was a "Strange policy from Pickles. Replace efficient camera cars with inefficient camera holding people. Lead to loads of offences being missed."
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Councillor Mark Coker, cabinet member for transport, later argued that camera enforcement had been a "very effective deterrent against bus lane abuse and illegal parking in Plymouth"
He said it not only improved journey times "but, most importantly, makes our roads safer for everyone."
He went on: "We widely publicised the introduction of the camera car and the locations of our bus lane cameras in the hope that drivers comply with the law and do not risk getting a fine. We also recently put red surfacing down on all camera-enforced bus lanes to make them even clearer to motorists.
"Both the police and bus companies are supportive of the measures and say they have made a big difference in terms of improving road safety and reducing congestion.
"Motorists shouldn't drive in a bus lanes, park on school keep clear signs or block bus bays, whether cameras are used to enforce these restrictions or not. If you drive responsibly and within the law, you shouldn't get a fine."
Cllr Coker highlighted that the vast majority of those handed fines did not contest it which he insisted proved that they get it right in most cases.
He added: "Every penny of net income from parking and bus lane enforcement is reinvested in road repairs for the city."
Other proposals announced by the Government included reimbursing motorists for the 'cost and expense' of successful appeals against parking fines, increasing the waiting period allowed for drivers before a fine is issues from five minutes to 15, stopping councils from using bailiffs to collect parking fines and allowing residents to petition to force councils to review how many yellow lines are painted on their streets.