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Thousands call for Southend's spy cars to be scrapped
8:30am Monday 25th February 2013 in News
NEARLY 2,400 people have called for Southend’s spy cars to be scrapped.
Eighteen months after the controversial vehicles hit the town’s streets, a petition will be handed to council chiefs on Thursday, demanding they are taken out of action and replaced with wardens on foot.
The huge list of signatures will trigger an automatic debate among councillors about the future of the cars.
Organiser Bob Wells, owner of Printer and Cartridge Solutions in Woodgrange Drive, Southend, started the petition because he feared it was targeting “ordinary” people.
He said: “The council has claimed these cars are here to stop people parking dangerously outside schools, but the truth is the vast majority of the tickets they issue are at the trivial end of the scale.
“I fully support harsh punishments for dangerous offences, but what the cars lack is common sense.
“The number of people who have signed the petition just shows how strongly people feel about this.”
The spy cars – two Toyota iQs armed with rotating CCTV cameras – have dished out more than 11,000 parking tickets since they were introduced in July 2011.
Mr Wells claimed the annual cost of running the vehicles - about £220,000 - would be enough to pay for ten wardens who could patrol the same areas on foot.
However, parking chiefs argued the limited amount of time to penalise vehicles which stop dangerously outside schools would make normal patrols redundant.
They pointed out the cars also stop motorists stopping in bus stops and on grass verges - common complaints from residents.