Southend spy car rakes in £500k in two years

One of the Southend spy cars

One of the Southend spy cars

First published in News Exclusive by

SPY cars raked in almost half a million pounds for Southend Council in their first two years of operation.

The two Toyota iQs, armed with rotating CCTV cameras, issued 15,256 tickets between July 2011 and last March, generating £485,950 for the authority and provoking a backlash among drivers.

The spy cars are understood to cost about £220,000 a year to run, and the council says it has to spend £1.6million more on managing parking than it generates in charges and fines.

However, Martin Terry, spokesman for Southend Council’s Independent group of councillors, said the cars were being used to unfairly target motorists. He said: “There is clear evidence that, although the council has denied it, spy cars stalk customers of businesses.

“I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes. The spy car has stealthily hidden itself, then come out when people park.”

Mr Terry wants more details from the council about where revenue from spy cars is used.

He added: “I agree with the use of spy cars to deter dangerous parking, such as outside schools – that’s why I supported their introduction.

“But I don’t agree with them used to penalise people going about their lawful business.”

Spy car revenue fell from £279,732 between July 2011 and March 2012, to £206,208 between April 2012 and March 2013, as tickets issued dropped from 8,890 to 6,366.

It prompted the council to claim the controversial scheme was improving parking.

The authority, which released the figures after a Freedom of Information request, was unable to provide more recent figures.

The Department for Transport says CCTV should be only used when it is impractical to use traffic wardens, and rules cash from parking charges and fines cannot be used for other services.

But many drivers and businesses have accused Southend Council of using the spy cars as a “cash cow”.

Maria Sanders, owner of Kays DIY Centre, claims daily patrols outside her shop, in Beresford Road, Southend, have frightened away all her customers.

She has successfully appealed four tickets for unloading outside her shop, and said: “It’s absolutely outrageous. It’s about making money.

“That spy car is down here every day. As soon as people see it, they are out of here.”

Coach companies have also been fined for picking up and dropping off children as safely as possible outside schools, as the Echo revealed last Friday.

Bill Cook, owner of Cooks Coaches, inWestcliff, says fines are making jobs at Chase High School and Lancaster School, in Prittlewell Chase, uneconomical.

Schools are resorting to paying fines on behalf of firms just to keep coaches coming.

Mr Cook said: “There is no common sense. There are always complaints about parents parking outside schools, but other people have a job to do.”

Bob Wells, owner of Printer and Cartridge Solutions in Woodgrange Drive, Southchurch, collected 2,400 signatures pleading for spy cars to be scrapped.

A separate petition was started by businesses on the Stock Road Industrial Estate.

However, the council refused to bow to public pressure, as a review had already given them the thumbs up to continue.

Disillusioned Mr Wells said: “They just ignored it. The council doesn’t listen.”

Roger Hutchinson, of Willingale Way, Thorpe Bay, has successfully appealed four tickets.

He said: “If someone can win four out of four appeals, there is something wrong with the process.”

The council insists the spy cars are about improving safety – not making money.

Bosses claim the vehicles have helped cut parking infringements, with the number of fines falling from 8,076 in 2012 to 6,958 in 2013.

A spokesman said: “The primary use of CCTV cars is as safety and enforcement vehicles working, where practical, alongside the existing foot patrols to improve traffic flows and enhance safety by ensuring parking restrictions are complied with.

“The vehicles are clearly marked to indicate their intended use.

“Their use is predominantly deployed at the request of the community, councillors and school children themselves who want to be protected from inconsiderate and often dangerous parking by drivers.”

The council says the CCTV cars are particularly effective enforcing restrictions at school “keep clear” zones, crossings and junctions.

The spokesman added: “The council has a duty of care to protect all residents and visitors to the borough.

“It does not compromise on safety and provides information on the locations of CCTV cars so drivers are aware enforcement of highways legislation is taking place.

“If more drivers abided by the laws of the highways, they wouldn’t receive fines – but regrettably a number continue not to do so.

“It should be noted that CCTV car enforcement is significantly improving parking compliance in Southend, evidenced by the number of penalty charge notices issued.

“We reassessed the operation of CCTV car enforcement after 12 months. A members’ workshop was held to seek input to improve the service.”

However, the Government could ban spy cars by Easter.

Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government Secretary, is considering whether to ban their use to “rein in overzealous and unfair rules”.

Comments (24)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:27am Fri 24 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

FANTASTIC half a million quid, simply from idiots parking where they shouldn't..
FANTASTIC half a million quid, simply from idiots parking where they shouldn't.. Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: 5

7:29am Fri 24 Jan 14

whateverhappened says...

£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating whateverhappened
  • Score: 13

7:33am Fri 24 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

whateverhappened wrote:
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
That amount is given as handouts to the unemployed monthly, that needs revoking....
[quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: £220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating[/p][/quote]That amount is given as handouts to the unemployed monthly, that needs revoking.... Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: -4

7:50am Fri 24 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

whateverhappened wrote:
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..
[quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: £220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating[/p][/quote]yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off.. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 9

8:43am Fri 24 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
whateverhappened wrote:
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..
Dont forget the lives saved, by deterring errant parking offenders off the streets..
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: £220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating[/p][/quote]yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..[/p][/quote]Dont forget the lives saved, by deterring errant parking offenders off the streets.. Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: 7

9:18am Fri 24 Jan 14

Southend Andy says...

Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught
Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught Southend Andy
  • Score: 5

9:52am Fri 24 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

Southend Andy wrote:
Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught
Hear hear
[quote][p][bold]Southend Andy[/bold] wrote: Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught[/p][/quote]Hear hear Howard Cháse
  • Score: 2

9:53am Fri 24 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

Been there got the T shirt wrote:
DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
whateverhappened wrote:
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..
Dont forget the lives saved, by deterring errant parking offenders off the streets..
A very good point. Well said.
[quote][p][bold]Been there got the T shirt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: £220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating[/p][/quote]yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..[/p][/quote]Dont forget the lives saved, by deterring errant parking offenders off the streets..[/p][/quote]A very good point. Well said. Howard Cháse
  • Score: 2

10:23am Fri 24 Jan 14

gbrepublicans says...

Southend Andy wrote:
Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught
If all parking were made illegal, revenues would sky rocket.
[quote][p][bold]Southend Andy[/bold] wrote: Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught[/p][/quote]If all parking were made illegal, revenues would sky rocket. gbrepublicans
  • Score: -3

10:30am Fri 24 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

gbrepublicans wrote:
Southend Andy wrote:
Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught
If all parking were made illegal, revenues would sky rocket.
Why not just double the fine amounts, same return for half the work, being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions, however, it is very clear that without the fines, people would simply abuse the parking facilities,
[quote][p][bold]gbrepublicans[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Southend Andy[/bold] wrote: Driver's know where they can park legally & if they can't be botherd too then they should be fined. The only people who complain about the parking enforcement vehicles are those who have been caught[/p][/quote]If all parking were made illegal, revenues would sky rocket.[/p][/quote]Why not just double the fine amounts, same return for half the work, being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions, however, it is very clear that without the fines, people would simply abuse the parking facilities, Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: -3

10:47am Fri 24 Jan 14

heartbeat says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
whateverhappened wrote:
£220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating
yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..
Surely this information should be available under the Freedom of Information Act? It is a really important piece of information and we all have the right to know what happens to it. Echo??
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: £220,000 a year to run.... thats the scandel that needs investigating[/p][/quote]yes that amount is crazy...who's ripping who off..[/p][/quote]Surely this information should be available under the Freedom of Information Act? It is a really important piece of information and we all have the right to know what happens to it. Echo?? heartbeat
  • Score: 2

11:07am Fri 24 Jan 14

Jail Time says...

I park where I like and just don't pay the fines. That's just me I don't give a fu!ck about anything.
I park where I like and just don't pay the fines. That's just me I don't give a fu!ck about anything. Jail Time
  • Score: -5

11:15am Fri 24 Jan 14

Cockle says...

'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions'

Yes, you are.

Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders.

I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given.
However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction.....
'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions' Yes, you are. Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders. I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given. However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction..... Cockle
  • Score: 6

11:28am Fri 24 Jan 14

QuestionTime says...

£220,000 per year would go a long way in paying for human beings (enforcement officers as they are known as) to patrol the streets who would hopefully be able to make an informed judgement call and use some common sense in the majority of situations rather than see everything as black & white as per the spy car operator.

Not every motorist is looking to flout the rules and the situation captured on camera doesn't tell the whole story, so maybe Southend Council could provide jobs for keen eyed enforcement officers to patrol the streets to help matters instead of buying robots as cash cows.
£220,000 per year would go a long way in paying for human beings (enforcement officers as they are known as) to patrol the streets who would hopefully be able to make an informed judgement call and use some common sense in the majority of situations rather than see everything as black & white as per the spy car operator. Not every motorist is looking to flout the rules and the situation captured on camera doesn't tell the whole story, so maybe Southend Council could provide jobs for keen eyed enforcement officers to patrol the streets to help matters instead of buying robots as cash cows. QuestionTime
  • Score: -1

11:30am Fri 24 Jan 14

whateverhappened says...

Cockle wrote:
'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions' Yes, you are. Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders. I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given. However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction.....
exactly yellow lines do not mean it would be dangerous to park here, as a lot are allowed to park on double yellows unmolested, spy cars, tesco lorries and blue badge holders are just a few. I would be suprised if many people allowed the council to dictate other aspects of their lives the way they blindly follow council parking controls.
[quote][p][bold]Cockle[/bold] wrote: 'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions' Yes, you are. Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders. I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given. However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction.....[/p][/quote]exactly yellow lines do not mean it would be dangerous to park here, as a lot are allowed to park on double yellows unmolested, spy cars, tesco lorries and blue badge holders are just a few. I would be suprised if many people allowed the council to dictate other aspects of their lives the way they blindly follow council parking controls. whateverhappened
  • Score: 0

11:39am Fri 24 Jan 14

Britanniaman says...

yeah they only go in areas where they know working people live you would never see this car around some council estates in southend like Newington avenue or cluny square where people park any where out side the shops.
But you see this car driving up and down Leigh near the woodcutters all day.
yeah they only go in areas where they know working people live you would never see this car around some council estates in southend like Newington avenue or cluny square where people park any where out side the shops. But you see this car driving up and down Leigh near the woodcutters all day. Britanniaman
  • Score: 3

11:41am Fri 24 Jan 14

Been there got the T shirt says...

whateverhappened wrote:
Cockle wrote:
'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions' Yes, you are. Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders. I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given. However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction.....
exactly yellow lines do not mean it would be dangerous to park here, as a lot are allowed to park on double yellows unmolested, spy cars, tesco lorries and blue badge holders are just a few. I would be suprised if many people allowed the council to dictate other aspects of their lives the way they blindly follow council parking controls.
Im registered as disabled, and dare I say it, though Im non tracable, I work for the council, and can park where I like, as I use my car for work purposes around Essex, any tickets being rescinded
[quote][p][bold]whateverhappened[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cockle[/bold] wrote: 'being a Blue Badge Holder, I'm not affected by these parking restrictions' Yes, you are. Having a Blue badge means that you can only park on double/single yellows if you are not causing an obstruction or parking dangerously, if you are doing either of these then you are committing an offence the same as anyone else. Zig-zag lines around crossings and school entrances also apply to Blue Badge holders. I have every sympathy with someone who needs a Blue badge and agree that all possible help should be given. However, I have always found it strange that double yellows are, supposedly, put in place to stop people parking where there is danger or it would cause an obstruction to traffic flows if a vehicle was to park there; put a Blue Badge on the vehicle and, magically, it is no longer a danger or an obstruction.....[/p][/quote]exactly yellow lines do not mean it would be dangerous to park here, as a lot are allowed to park on double yellows unmolested, spy cars, tesco lorries and blue badge holders are just a few. I would be suprised if many people allowed the council to dictate other aspects of their lives the way they blindly follow council parking controls.[/p][/quote]Im registered as disabled, and dare I say it, though Im non tracable, I work for the council, and can park where I like, as I use my car for work purposes around Essex, any tickets being rescinded Been there got the T shirt
  • Score: -7

12:30pm Fri 24 Jan 14

rayleigh123 says...

I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh

Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them.

always the same old cars every day

.
I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them. always the same old cars every day . rayleigh123
  • Score: 4

1:11pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

rayleigh123 wrote:
I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh

Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them.

always the same old cars every day

.
They need to habe these cRs patrolling ALL schools in the morning and when they kick out in the afternoon.

Quids in. Kerching!
[quote][p][bold]rayleigh123[/bold] wrote: I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them. always the same old cars every day .[/p][/quote]They need to habe these cRs patrolling ALL schools in the morning and when they kick out in the afternoon. Quids in. Kerching! Howard Cháse
  • Score: 1

1:13pm Fri 24 Jan 14

RochfordRob says...

I witnessed a fella get out of a brand new people carrier parked in a disabled bay recently.

He strolled across the car park - no probs. No passengers in his vehicle either.

A blatant p*ss taker.

As for these cars - £110,000 a year each. Keeps a lot of Jobsworths 'busy'.
I witnessed a fella get out of a brand new people carrier parked in a disabled bay recently. He strolled across the car park - no probs. No passengers in his vehicle either. A blatant p*ss taker. As for these cars - £110,000 a year each. Keeps a lot of Jobsworths 'busy'. RochfordRob
  • Score: -1

4:39pm Fri 24 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

If a council approves shops in an area they should allow parking outside.
Schools should find an area nearby for parents to park and walk, unfortunately do to the amount of evil nutters around no parent would feel happy with their child walking far on their own these days.
If a council approves shops in an area they should allow parking outside. Schools should find an area nearby for parents to park and walk, unfortunately do to the amount of evil nutters around no parent would feel happy with their child walking far on their own these days. jolllyboy
  • Score: -1

5:59pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Jail Time says...

It be nice to see one of these spy cars get crushed like a coke can by a 18 wheel truck. Prefrably with the council worker in it.
It be nice to see one of these spy cars get crushed like a coke can by a 18 wheel truck. Prefrably with the council worker in it. Jail Time
  • Score: -3

9:48pm Fri 24 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

rayleigh123 wrote:
I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh

Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them.

always the same old cars every day

.
all schools are the same...luckily up in Leigh the CCTV car and foot soldiers do make the rounds at Leigh primary schools,and your right its the same suspects everyday..!!
[quote][p][bold]rayleigh123[/bold] wrote: I wish they would come to the Glebe school, Rayleigh Parents park on the zig zags and half on the pavements, dont worry about the kids having to walk in the road around them. always the same old cars every day .[/p][/quote]all schools are the same...luckily up in Leigh the CCTV car and foot soldiers do make the rounds at Leigh primary schools,and your right its the same suspects everyday..!! DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: -1

10:03pm Sat 25 Jan 14

ThisYear says...

RochfordRob wrote:
I witnessed a fella get out of a brand new people carrier parked in a disabled bay recently.

He strolled across the car park - no probs. No passengers in his vehicle either.

A blatant p*ss taker.

As for these cars - £110,000 a year each. Keeps a lot of Jobsworths 'busy'.
'Things are not always what they seem grasshopper'

The man you saw might of been going to collect a disabled person.
[quote][p][bold]RochfordRob[/bold] wrote: I witnessed a fella get out of a brand new people carrier parked in a disabled bay recently. He strolled across the car park - no probs. No passengers in his vehicle either. A blatant p*ss taker. As for these cars - £110,000 a year each. Keeps a lot of Jobsworths 'busy'.[/p][/quote]'Things are not always what they seem grasshopper' The man you saw might of been going to collect a disabled person. ThisYear
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree