A council has been accused of ”bullying” parents after spending £100,000 on a mobile camera which will dish out parking fines – to school-run mums.
The state-of-the-art ROADflow camera will be mounted on top of a traffic warden’s car and driven past 80 schools when parents are dropping off or picking up their children.
Any parent caught stopping on double-yellow lines or zig-zags at the school gates will be photographed and fined £60.
Bedford Borough Council is forking out £67,000 for the camera, £16,000 on software modification and a further £15,000 for warning signs.
A new team of council traffic enforcement officers will record the registration plates and issue Penalty Charge Notices without the vehicle needing to stop.
The council estimates it needs to issue 1,338 parking fines every year to meet the £42,000 annual running costs and make a predicted £37,500 profit.
Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, said: ”This camera will be used to target mums dropping off their kids on a rainy day at school.
”Councils ought to use this kind of money to chase proper criminals not parents doing the school run.
”Drivers in Bedford are being remorselessly bullied by the council.
”The council says the enforcement will reduce the number of parents who tale their children to school by car.
”Bedford’s bureaucrats are trying to use surveillance to force people out of their car.”
Roger Lawson, spokesman for Association of British Drivers, said: ”People get issued with these tickets in the post often without them knowing they have committed a potential offence so it is very difficult to mount a defence.
”This is very productive for the council in terms of generating revenue but not for fair justice.
”If the council wanted to tackle the problem of people parking outside schools, why not send a police attendant to issue parking tickets; this scheme is only there to generate money.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ”It’s disgraceful that Bedford council is spending so much of taxpayers’ money trying to catch out mums on the school run.
”These drivers shouldn’t be breaking the law, but it really is over the top to enforce these regulations in this way, especially at a time when there is pressure to make spending cuts.
Cllr Charles Royden, portfolio holder for environment and transport at the council, the move was spurred to action after two pupils were knocked over in a week.
He believes revenue from fines, issued to people who park at bus stops, grass verges and on zig-zags outside school entrances, will make the scheme self-funding.
The council has employed six new traffic enforcement officers to launch the crackdown.
Cllr Royden said: ”We have problems outside our schools with unlawful parking which are putting children’s lives at risk. and creating a great deal of congestion.
”These vehicles allow officers to cover a large number of schools so anti-social behaviour of parents is caught on camera.
”Myself and the Mayor went out on the streets to find out how bad the problem was. We were amazed at the behaviour of some parents and determined to act to protect children from their anti-social behaviour.
”There may be some people who think it is an infringement of civil liberties but law abiding drivers have nothing to worry about.
”The cameras have Automatic numberplate recognition and simply drive past, record the offence and sends them a fine in the post.
”This technology will cover its cost and is a sound investment in preserving the life and limb of children attending borough schools.”
After similar schemes were trialled in Bournemouth and Basildon, the camera is expected to lead to an extra 2,600-3,150 penalty charge notices a year.
The council is spending a further £25,652 to fund its Automatic Numberplate Recognition (Anpr) network.