A NEW spy car is set to be introduced by Southend Council to nab illegally parked vehicles.

Councillors will next week consider plans for a parking enforcement car, fitted with a camera, similar to the Smart Car cracking down on motorists in Basildon.

The car would target drivers parking in bus lanes, on yellow lines and grass verges and outside schools, on “Keep Clear” markings, and any other roads with parking restrictions.

A spy car was tried out in Southend on September 29 and 30, then October 1 and 2 last year which concluded 110 parking tickets could have been served.

Mark Flewitt, Southend Tory councillor responsible for transport, said: “No method of parking enforcement is popular and I understand people are going to be upset if our car catches them out.

“However, we get a lot of complaints from residents saying we are not cracking down enough on irresponsible drivers and this will help improve the situation.

“Residents want us to use it for things which are traditionally difficult to enforce, like stopping parking on grass verges or outside schools.”

He added the council will be able to react more quickly to residents and councillors’ phone calls complaining about irresponsibly parked vehicles.

Mr Flewitt said: “At the moment people who phone us are often disappointed, because the vehicles they report drive away before we can get a traffic warden down there.

“In future we will be able to send the car straight over.”

Gabrielle Coello, 40, lives in Osborne Road, Westcliff, where parking is only allowed down one side of the street, which means there are usually not enough spaces for all residents’ vehicles.

She said: “At the moment you can at least explain to a traffic warden in person genuine reasons why you had to park somewhere you maybe weren’t supposed to. This car won’t stop, so you won’t be able to do that.

“For example, I have a baby and there are usually no legal parking spaces in my street when I get home. This means I sometimes have to park on the other side for a short time, to load and unload the baby’s things or my shopping.”