Spy car rakes in £100,000 in Basildon...catching out an average of 13 drivers a day (From Basildon Recorder)
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Spy car rakes in £100,000 in Basildon...catching out an average of 13 drivers a day
10:10pm Saturday 12th October 2013 in News
BASILDON’S controversial spy car caught out an average of 13 drivers a day last year, raking in more than £100,000 for the council-backed body which runs it.
Official figures show the tiny white car’s photos led to the issuing of 3,279 fixed penalty notices – even though it was off the road for part of the year for maintenance.
The figures were published only weeks after Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced he might outlaw the use of such vehicles, because some councils were using them simply to boost revenues.
Faced with the minister’s warning, Basildon Council has already said it won’t be scrapping the car, which netted £102,197 for the South Essex Parking Partnership, which runs it.
John Dornan, the Tory councillor who represents the council on the parking partnership, defended the decision.
He said: “I can’t see how it is being used as a cash-cow in Basildon.
“It keeps the traffic moving in the borough, as well as making roads and schools safer.”
However, a breakdown of the figures calls one of Mr Dornan’s assertions into question.
Just 139 of those tickets were for illegal parking near schools.
The car is hugely unpopular with drivers such as Paul Downes, who is fighting a £70 fine given to him in July for stopping in a bus stop at Basildon station for two minutes to collect a 68-year-old friend.
The partnership refused his initial appeal against the fine and he is now taking them to a traffic penalty tribunal in November.
Mr Downes, 65, of Handley’s Chase, Noak Bridge, said: “It’s just the principle. I think it’s disgusting.
“It doesn’t surprise me the car has fined so many people. The photos don’t showhow long someone has been parked in one place.
It’s all very clandestine.
“I’m appealing against my fine because I’ve probably been stood still in traffic longer than I was parked. I was picking up a friend because there’s no drop-off point next to the station.”
Although the spy car earned more in fines last year than the year before, it is proving expensive to run. It only cleared £53,000 for the partnership, after its £49,000 running costs were covered.
The figures are for the year which ended in March. Since then, more than £34,000 of penalty notices have been handed out.
A similar vehicle in Southend has led to the issuing of almost 20,000 tickets in its first 26 months.
Campaigners have called for it be scrapped, but councillors have unanimously voted to keep it on the road.
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