Spy car to be used in crackdown on drivers who illegally park outside schools (From Prestwich and Whitefield Guide)
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Spy car to be used in crackdown on drivers who illegally park outside schools
A “snooper” car could be used by council chiefs to catch drivers who put lives at risk by parking illegally at school gates.
Many headteachers across the borough are fed up with motorists causing danger and mayhem outside their schools — and ignoring parking restrictions.
At last week’s full council meeting, Lib Dem leader Cllr Tim Pickstone asked council leader, Labour Cllr Mike Connolly, if the council’s Smart car — nicknamed the snooper car — could be used for other means, aside from catching motorists who drive in designated bus lanes.
Cllr Connolly replied: “The council Smart car has been effective in monitoring bus lanes in the borough and using it outside schools is something that could be beneficial.
“We will look into the viability of it and report back to the council.”
Police say an 18-month operation to combat the problem has been successful, but school leaders believe a more effective approach is needed.
During the police operation, which started in May, 2012, Bury South police have fined 17 people for illegal parking after issuing 148 warnings.
Cllr Pickstone believes the snooper car could be more effective as it would fine first-time offenders rather than using the police’s ‘three strikes and you’re fined’ approach.
Earlier this year, two children suffered minor injuries when they were struck by vehicles outside Park View Primary School in Prestwich.
“Headteachers across the borough are at their wit’s end trying to fight the scourge of dangerous parking outside schools and this could be a decisive weapon in the battle to keep children safe,” Cllr Pickstone told the Bury Times.
Miss Pat Jones, headteacher of Our Lady of Grace RC Primary School in Highfield Road, Prestwich, and her staff have been dealing with parking problems for years, which has resulted in a red banner on display which says ‘what part of SCHOOL KEEP CLEAR don’t you understand?’.
Miss Jones said of the idea: “It is worth trying if there is a chance that it will help keep pupils safe as they cross the road.
“The car would have to keep coming back often though so the people responsible for illegal parking wouldn’t just think it was a one off.
“There is a risk that everyone would get to know what the car looks like but regular visits would give it a good chance of success.”
Inspector Mark Kenny, of Bury Police, said: “Parking restrictions are there for a reason and it is important that parents work with police to ensure they are enforced.
“You have to consider if fire engines would be able to get access to the schools if a fire broke out.
“We are working closely with headteachers and Bury Council to enforce parking policy and would ask parents to co-operate.”
However, parking affairs expert Barry Moss, from Westhoughton, believes the plan could hit a snag.
He said: “Legally, the council is not allowed to use the snooper car for parking enforcement outside schools if a traffic warden on foot can do it.
“It is only allowed if it would be dangerous for a traffic warden to do that.
“The only alternative would be for the council to seek the permission of the Secretary of State, but that permission would only allow them to use the vehicle outside schools with a particular problem, not every school in the borough.”
* Since October 2010, the Smart car has been deployed to monitor the borough’s five bus lanes, capturing CCTV footage of vehicles that abuse them.
Council figures show the car raked in £271,000 in fines for the 12 months up to April 2012 and £201,719 in the 12 months up to April 2013.
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