COUNCILLORS will be trusted not to abuse a new parking system which will see Southend’s traffic wardens blocked from ticketing their cars.

A new computer system, authorised by Southend Council, will prevent wardens from issuing penalty notices to councillors if they are parked in public bays from April.

Chiefs say councillors should be entitled to free parking if they are on council business and will trust them not to abuse the system.

But the move has outraged members of the public and some councillors, who claim elected politicians should not receive “perks” as part of the job.

Martin Terry, spokesman for the council’s Independent group, said: “I don’t see why councillors should be given an advantage.

“We are already paid allowances, which are supposed to be used to cover the costs we incur while doing our work as councillors.

“There is no need for extra perks. It is completely unnecessary.”

Councillors currently get permits allowing them to park in all council car parks or pay-and-display bays, but are told to leave the permits at home if they are not performing civic duties and pay as members of the public.

All councillors have the permits except the nine-strong Independent group, whose members argued they only needed free parking at the Civic Centre and the Essex Street town centre car park to carry out their work.

Under the new system, permits will be shredded and instead the number plates of councillors’ cars will be entered into the electronic devices used by the traffic wardens to issue tickets.

It means wardens will be automatically blocked if they try issuing penalty notices on councillors’ cars regardless of how long they have been parked in a bay.

Traffic wardens will issue penalties if councillors park in banned areas, such as roads with double yellow lines, or take up two or more spaces in a car park because wardens enter separate codes for different offences before issuing tickets.

Council chiefs said the move would save money by cutting the costs of the paperwork and printing associated with the permits, but have not said how much.

A spokesman said: “The new system will not differ from the permits in the sense that councillors will be trusted to use it appropriately.

“If they are not on council business, they will be expected to pay to park as a member of the public.”