21 Jun 2014

‘Cash cow’ spy cars to be banned

The “overzealous” use of spy cars by councils to issue parking fines will be reined in as the government seeks a better deal for the High Street.

Government bans 'cash cow' spy cars used by councils

The government has taken its first small step in cutting down mass surveillance of the public – but the clampdown on councils using secret CCTV cars for parking fines is unlikely to impress NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Department for Communities and Local Government wants to eradicate the “cash cow” approach to parking fines by making it illegal to use CCTV ‘spy cars’ alone to dish out fines, and will now require parking wardens to fix penalty notices to windscreens.

Until now some parking tickets have been issued by post after an infringing car was spotted by a enforcement car using CCTV.

Government bans 'cash cow' spy cars used by councils

Despite rules that say fines should not be used to generate profits, CCTV cars “can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules”, said DCLG.

Stealth fines

Council revenues from parking fines in England rose from £608 million in 1997 to £1.3 billion in 2010, and 9 million parking fines are now issued each year by local authorities.

DCLG said stealth fines by post “undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term”.

The ban is among several changes being made designed to give shoppers and shopkeepers “a fairer deal by reining in over-zealous parking enforcement practices” which can push customers to out of town centres on online, it added.

In addition, motorists parking at a meter that is out of order will not be fined if there are no other ways to pay.

The ban will become law through the Deregulation Bill after a three month consultation.