Council’s £60k camera car 'cannot be used to catch motorists parking illegally at seaside'

Councillors have been told a ‘camera car’ costing more than £59,000 and which patrols outside of schools to catch people parking illegally is restricted to where it can be used elsewhere.

The car captures footage of vehicles parking on yellow lines and ‘zig zags’ near schools

Members of Redcar and Cleveland Council asked if the reach of the car – which captures footage of vehicles parking on yellow lines and ‘zig zags’ near schools, as well as parking in bus stops and bus lanes – could be extended.

Some wanted the car to be used to catch motorists parking illegally at seafront locations in the borough.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But a presentation delivered to members of the council’s growth, enterprise and environment scrutiny committee by a council officer revealed that as an “approved article” in the civil enforcement of parking contraventions it was limited in the enforcement activity that it could carry out.

It said: “Contravention on the seafront is a combination of yellow lines and a footway parking ban which is not included in the list of contraventions that a camera enforcement vehicle can enforce against.”

The Renault camera car was bought by the council in 2018 at a cost of £59,350, which included the camera device and associated software.

A council spokesman said it cost about £7,500 a year for the licence to operate it.

The camera car can issue fines to motorists immediately as it has an onboard computer containing details of traffic regulation orders across the borough relating to schools and bus stops.

As the car passes these locations its camera records evidence such as registration numbers of offending vehicles.

The footage is then reviewed by a council enforcement officer to ensure that signage and line marking is correct before it is passed to the council’s parking section for a fine to be processed and issued.

The council said the covid-19 outbreak had reduced the number of fines in this category recently being issued as there were significantly less vehicles in and around schools, particularly during lockdown periods.

Covid had also caused the local authority to “pause” the purchase of a second camera car which had been planned.

Instead the ‘retrofit’ of a new electric vehicle with cameras was being considered which would be more broadly used to support community safety initiatives, such as monitoring anti-social behaviour.