Eric Pickles plans to ban “spy cars” but Bexley Council insist they are for child safety

PUBLISHED: 10:32 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 10:32 01 October 2013

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Cars equipped with CCTV cameras used by councils to catch motorists parking illegally could be banned - but Bexley Council say that is not the purpose of the three which roam around the borough.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced plans to do away with the vehicles – dubbed “spy cars” – to let traffic wardens do the job instead.

The cars are estimated to have been used to issue 10million fines worth £301m nationally in the past five years.

Bexley cabinet member for the environment and public realm Gareth Bacon says 90 per cent of the time they operate “in and around schools to make sure people drive safely and take children into consideration.”

He added: “They are extremely identifiable. The purpose is for people to see them so they abide by the road laws. They’re not there to trick people into getting parking tickets.”

Mr Pickles takes another view. He 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.”

Civil liberties groups called for councils to be more transparent about the level of surveillance from the cars.

But the Local Government Association, representing local authorities, said the cars help keep children safe near schools and improve traffic flow.

Mr Bacon said: “It looks like this is another example of central government trying to squeeze local councils.”

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