Spy car hits motorists for more than £80,000
WIRRAL'S controversial CCTV Smart "Spy" Car has helped the council raise more than £88,000 in revenue from parking fines over the last year, according to a new report.
Research by Big Brother Watch - a campaign group fighting intrusions on our privacy and freedom - shows that £88,350 was raised through fixed the issuing penalty notices and £3,078 from fines for parking contraventions in the borough during April last year and March. The vehicle is operated by private parking contractor NCL.
A spokesman for Big Brother Watch said the evidence suggests the spread of the CCTV car is being fuelled by private contractors for commercial reasons, and not in any effort to reduce dangerous driving.
But Wirral council says all money that has been raised is used to implement road safety measures.
Cllr Lesley Rennie, Wirral's cabinet member for Streetscene and transport services, told the Globe: "We are using whatever means we can to improve road safety, particularly around schools, and the camera car is a really important part of that work.
"Sadly, as long as a minority of drivers continue to park illegally, and put childrens' lives at risk, we will need to use the camera car.
"However, by law, we cannot make any money from parking enforcement activities, and any money we raise from parking enforcement is ploughed back into further road safety measures."
However, her views seem at odds with her former colleague, ex-Tory councillor Leah Fraser, who lost her seat in May's local elections.
In June of last year, Cllr Fraser said: "Big Brother is alive and well in Wallasey Town Hall, whether it is secretly snooping using anti-terrorist laws or a video camera on a 20ft pole going past your bedroom window.
Big Brother Watch's research revealed that, nationally, 54 cars in operation across 25 councils have caught and fined at least 188,000 motorists over the 10 months between the same period.
Their concern is heightened because 22 of the 31 councils lease their CCTV cars from private parking contractors, who make no secret of the vehicles' usefulness in making profits.
Campaign director Dylan Sharpe said: "The CCTV Smart car represents a very dangerous escalation in Britain's surveillance society.
"The vehicles are sent out to catch people and make money, with road safety only an afterthought. £8 million is an eye-watering amount to take in fines in just 25 councils.
"It is surely only a matter of time before more councils start using these cars. The coalition Government must act now and prevent that from happening." THE GLOBE