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Southend should have more spy cars, says councillor
7:30am Tuesday 5th March 2013 in Local News
SOUTHEND should have more spy cars, not fewer, according to a senior councillor.
John Lamb, the Tory deputy leader of Southend Council, spoke out after the authority was presented with a petition of 2,400 signatures calling for the controversial vehicles to be axed.
Disgruntled residents claimed they had destroyed trade in certain shopping parades and unfairly targeted motorists who only stopped for seconds.
But Mr Lamb argued the cars had played a vital role in protecting the town’s schools, grass verges and dangerous junctions.
He said: “There is a complete misconception about what these cars are about.
“They are not spy cars, they are CCTV cars and they manage to get about the town and prevent so much more than ordinary officers might be able to do.
“The damage that is being wreaked on our grass verges and elsewhere is unacceptable.
“I think we should get more CCTV cars so we can get around the borough even more quickly.”
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.
The petition against the vehicles was organised by Bob Wells, owner of Printer and Cartridge Solutions, in Woodgrange Drive, Southend, who said he started it because he feared they were targeting “ordinary” people.
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 wardens would have to penalise vehicles which stop dangerously outside schools would make normal patrols unworkable.