Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Southend spy car routes could be published
10:00am Tuesday 4th December 2012 in Southend
THE routes of Southend’s spy cars could be published to blow away the “myths” that they target certain areas.
Chiefs at Southend Council are considering releasing maps of the daily patrols undertaken by the CCTV-equipped vehicles.
Bosses say they want to dispel the perception that the cars loiter in certain areas, such as shopping districts, where they can repeatedly pick off unsuspecting motorists.
Tony Cox, the Tory councillor responsible for transport, said: “We have said before that there is no secrecy around these cars.
“We can publicise the routes of the vehicles, which will hopefully show they are not out to get anyone. That is a myth.
“Councillors can then contribute by suggesting where they think the cars should be patrolling.”
The spy cars were brought in last summer to combat problems with parents parking inconsiderately outside schools when picking up or dropping off their children.
As part of their operation guidelines, each car has to keep watch outside two schools every day.
They have been sent to certain roads on request, but generally follow a prescribed route and only deviate when they spot a parking offence.
They have been welcomed by some, including Ashley Eastwood, head at Thorpe Greenways Junior School, who believes they have played a big part in cutting the amount of parents parking dangerously.
However other motorists have complained after being ticketed for stopping briefly in residential roads or when displaying blue badges.
Last week, the council issued a review of the cars’ first year, in which it claimed there was an “inaccurate” rumour that they “hide and lie in wait”.
Mr Cox said publicising the routes would help to show that was not the case.
However, some councillors feared motorists may take the information as a licence to park where they want in unpatrolled roads.
Peter Wexham, a Lib Dem councillor, said: “It needs to be made clear that, although the cars might only go along one road, they will still be able to spot vehicles in other roads.
“Otherwise it could be a free for all.”
Council chiefs will make a final decision on whether to publish the routes at a cabinet meeting in January.