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Bye, bye ‘spy’ car: Is it end of road for Havering Council’s CCTV fleet?

07:00 21 March 2014

Havering Council’s dreaded CCTV “spy” fleet is destined for the proverbial scrap heap as a government-ordered ban looks set to be announced.

Cars and scooters mounted with cameras have been used by the council to catch drivers parking illegally since June 2007, raising millions of pounds in fines.

The council’s income from penalty charge notices (PCNs) has amounted to nearly £2million in the past financial year – the third lowest of all the London boroughs - of which more than £670,000 was generated via mobile cameras.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced last year he wanted to rein in “over-zealous and unfair rules on parking enforcement” in a bid to kick-start the country’s embattled high streets.

The results of a public consultation by his office – the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – will be released “shortly”, a spokesman told the Recorder this week.

It is likely to result in tough action on councils, including a ban on moving and static CCTV traffic cameras.

Cllr Barbara Matthews, of the Residents’ Association (RA), said of the impending ban: “I think it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut. But if councils used the cars outside schools and in danger hotspots, as they said they would, instead of targeting residential roads with two wheels on pavements, then they wouldn’t be facing this. It was like living in a police state.”

The council has repeatedly argued its fleet is used to promote safe driving and parking.

Beleaguered residents set up a protest website, Angry of Havering, against the council’s CCTV fleet, dubbing it a “cash cow”.

It is thought, under the new proposals, only parking wardens will be allowed to film road users.

Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Barry Tebbutt, said: “For those who try to abuse the system, we need tools like the CCTV cars. The fact that we issued the third lowest PCN rates in London, despite being one of the largest boroughs, shows we take a common sense approach to parking enforcement. We await the results of the DCLG consultation with interest.”

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