Number of fines handed out by Medway Council CCTV cars plummets
by Dan Bloom
The number of fines handed out by Medway Council’s
controversial spy cars has plummeted, we can reveal.
The vehicles delivered just 3,600 fines last year, down from
almost 23,000 two years ago.
They have attracted widespread opposition since they took to the
roads in 2008.
Their “victims” only find out when the penalty demand arrives in
the post, making it harder to gather their own evidence.
The council has given the average yearly cost of running the two
cars as £620,000.
Even if all last year’s fines were paid in full at £70 each, the
income would come nowhere near covering that cost so it means that
taxpayers will be picking up the difference.
The council says more than two-thirds of the total is
for staffing – even though there are currently just four members of
Anti-CCTV protesters have long called for the cars to be
Gillingham businessman and long-time council critic Peter Cook,
54, overturned a fine he received outside a butcher’s in Canterbury
Mr Cook (pictured right) said: “If you were an accountant or a
finance person you would say it was time to give up if your income
is less than your costs.
“If you are in a public context you are wasting taxes. They
should consider giving them up if those are the figures.”
Opposition leader Cllr Vince Maple (Lab) said the cost of the
cars given by the council was “ridiculous”.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Either it’s wrong or it
would further justify our call for a review. You could pay 14 or 15
staff for that.”
Despite this, he added: “They are useful outside schools because
clearly we want to see the safety of our young people.”
Council chiefs say the cars are here to stay.
They deny their use is
being scaled back, instead saying the drop is partly because more
people are being fined in person.
An edict in April 2011 said councils should give fines on foot
unless the situation was “difficult or sensitive”.
Since then the number of fines issued by the CCTV system has
declined. Just 92 drivers were stung in December compared to 2,762
in the busiest ever month, March 2010.
A council spokesman said the drop could also be down to
publicity, adding: “The cars send out a strong message to people
who break parking regulations.
“There has been a notable drop and we would like to thank the
vast and growing majority of motorists who think of other road
users and park sensibly in Medway.”
The Medway Messenger obtained the figures under the Freedom
of Information Act.
The council said the average annual cost of running the CCTV
cars is £620,400: £420,000 on staff, £146,600 on leasing the cars,
£45,000 on fuel, £6,000 on training and £2,800 on uniforms.
These costs may be lower now than a year or two ago, when a high
number of agency staff were used. The council is also renegotiating
its lease for the cars next month.
In all, since 2008, 57,807 drivers have been fined by the CCTV
cars. Two-thirds (39,442) have paid their fines, while 14,363 have
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