‘Spy cars’ to catch school run parents

14 Jan

Several councils in the West Midlands are may join a scheme which uses special  vehicles fixed with number-plate reading equipment to identify vehicle parking dangerously or illegally outside schools at pick-up time. Sandwell Council intends to lease a vehicle equipped with video cameras and automatic number plate technology. Wolverhampton City Council said the authority is prepared to look at all options for controlling illegal and inconsiderate parking including looking into the spy car scheme to assess its viability. Needless to say the Taxpayers’ Alliance didn’t like it, saying that it was an “elaborate scheme’ which may not solve the problem and would probably turn out to be a cash cow for the council”. Personally I think this, together with many other schemes across the country will indeed have a big effect.

Bedford is running a similar scheme. The campaign group Big Brother Watch seemed to be more concerned about mum’s getting wet and how unreasonable it was to expect parents to walk to school in the rain. They told The Mirror who ran the story “This camera will be used to target mums dropping off their kids on a rainy day”! As far as I knew, kids like the rain.

Mud Puddle Sam – Photo by PittCaleb

And then Southend Council are also considering using a parking enforcement car in Basildon following a successful trial in Southend. A spokesman said: “No method of parking enforcement is popular and I understand people are going to be upset if our car catches them out… However, we get a lot of complaints from residents saying we are not cracking down enough on irresponsible drivers and this will help improve the situation… Residents want us to use it for things which are traditionally difficult to enforce, like stopping parking on grass verges or outside schools.”

Notice that it is called a ‘parking enforcement car’ by those who are proposing it and as a ‘spy car’ that will ‘catch’ people by those who don’t or who need to sell newspapers! Do remember that the majority of primary age children walk to school and that it is only a minority of parents who do drive who park illegally and dangerously outside the school. In other words the parking issues are being caused by a small minority of parents to the detriment of everyone else.

5 Responses to “‘Spy cars’ to catch school run parents”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle January 14, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    It’s funny how everyone who gets targetted always has a “legitimate” reason to have parked illegally and how it’s sooooo unfair. It’s never their fault even though they were the ones driving.
    I also dislike the phrase “war on motorists”. It’s a campaign against anti-social behaviour.

  2. Kevin Love January 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Here in Toronto, we’ve had great success with towing away illegally parked cars. Their owners then have to pay rather large fines and impound fees to get them back. Fees and fines that are so large that they quite often amount to more than the value of the car, so quite a lot of motorists do not bother to try to get their car back.

    This has had a wondrously high success rate in convincing motorists to not park their car illegally.

  3. Kevin Love January 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I took a look and found a list of the towing and impound storage charges. Please note that the fine for illegal parking will be in addition to these charges. See:

    Click to access towing_practices_and_rates.pdf

    An annual average of 53,116 vehicles were towed away by Toronto Police between 2004 and 2007. Needless to say, child safety is a high priority, so car parked illegally next to a school are a high priority for law enforcement.

  4. Amoeba January 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Years ago I challenged parents who parked on the zigzags outside the school where our children attended. They refused to to believe that the zigzags outside the school weren’t for parent delivering children.

    Unfortunately, with some people, there’s no dissuading them from their idiocy, they’re always right!

    • Peter Miller January 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Actually I believe that they were sort-of right, in that parking on the zig-zags was not actually an offense until recently. That wasn’t of course to say that they were ‘for’ people to drop kids off, but as you say, for some people there is no telling them which is why we need laws and social pressure in spades!

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