Parking bay spy cameras will trap drivers - with no traffic wardens required
UK Daily Mail | July 25, 2007
Millions of motorists face being sent automated tickets through the post if they are caught on cameras trained on parking bays, the Government revealed today.
Thousands of spies in the sky will remove the need for traffic wardens or parking attendants to physically slap a ticket on a windscreen.
Instead, drivers who overstay will simply have their car photographed and will receive their fine through the post - in the same way as getting a speed camera endorsement.
At present, only drivers in London can be penalised in this way if they are caught on camera - or even spotted "driving away" by a parking attendant.
But new regulations placed before Parliament yesterday mean that from next March councils across England and Wales will be allowed to follow suit.
Motoring groups fear the policy could lead to tickets being issued unfairly.
Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy for the AA, said: "The overriding principle to date is that tickets issued by attendants have to be given to the driver or fixed to the vehicle to be valid.
"We fear that these guidelines may be relaxed to allow tickets to become active if the attendant is merely thinking about writing one or simply saw an illegally-parked vehicle.
"If the Department for Transport wants to change the rules on ticket issue, it must bear in mind the trust factor between attendants and drivers. Removing the physical criteria for making a ticket active increases the chance of disputes and challenges."
Many parking attendants already carry digital cameras to allow them to take pictures of cars that they say are illegally parked.
The use of photographic evidence will, say, council, reduce the number of confrontations between drivers and wardens.
The Department for Transport insisted last night that the new powers were aimed at making the issuing of parking tickets more "motorist-friendly" - and were designed to deter persistent offenders, not to raise cash. It said local councils will be required to use parking enforcement to improve road safety and cut congestion rather than to make money from fines.
The new regulations laid before MPs yesterday under the Traffic Management Act 2004, mean:
• Fines can be sent by post after camera evidence or a parking attendant spotting a drive-away number plate.
• Drivers will see the time-scale for getting 'discount' on their fine increased from 14 to 21 days.
• Parking attendants will be renamed 'Civil Enforcement Officers'.
Ms Winterton said: "It is vital that we increase public confidence in parking enforcement by making it fairer. These new rules will make the system more transparent and consistent.
"There is a perception that motorists are often unfairly penalised by parking attendants who are only interested in issuing as many tickets as possible. We want to ensure the penalties they issue are fair and justified.
"At the same time it is important that motorists understand parking enforcement is crucial to ensuring traffic flows smoothly. Parking in the wrong place can and does cause traffic jams. It can also put other road users in danger."
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