Camera car branded ‘cash cow’

The camera car
The camera car

A WOMAN has branded a council’s camera car a “cash cow” after her mum was slapped with a £70 fine for parking her car outside a school during the half term holidays.

Kathleen Close was dropping her two-year-old twin grandsons off at their home in Percy Street, Hartlepool, but there were no parking spaces on the side of the road where they live.

So instead, the 59-year-old housewife parked her silver Citroen Picasso on zig-zag lines outside Jesmond Road Primary School opposite, believing she would not be causing a danger to any children because it was half-term.

But as Kathleen, of Stanhope Avenue, handed her grandchildren, Martin and Lewis Hill to her daughter Kelly Close, at 11.55am on Friday, June 3, the camera car drove past.

Kelly, 32, a civil servant, said: “We didn’t think anything of it driving past because we really didn’t believe there was anything wrong with parking there for the two minutes it took my mum to hand over the boys because the school was empty and closed.

“A week later my mum received a £70 fine in the post. It’s absolutely ridiculous and we’re fuming about it.

“The council has said that it’s not to make money, that it’s to protect children. But it’s just insulting when you’re fined when there are no children there. It’s just a cash cow.”

She added: “If the camera car came up to the school at 3pm in term-time when it’s supposed to it would find lots of cars parked on the zig-zag yellow lines.”

Hartlepool Borough Council said the car was introduced to tackle all forms of illegal parking, despite it being publicised as paying particular attention to schools.

A council spokesman said: “Although the camera car is paying particular attention to schools, it is there to tackle all forms of illegal parking throughout the town and people have had fair warning of its introduction.

“Mrs Close had parked on the keep clear yellow markings outside the school. They prohibit parking between 8am and 5pm Mondays to Fridays all-year round and are clearly sign-posted.

“The message is clear – if you ignore the parking restrictions, the camera car will catch you.”

As previously reported by the Mail, 438 fixed penalty notices have been issued since the camera car was launched last month to snare drivers who illegally park while dropping youngsters off at school.

The £40,000 hi-tech vehicle, which is fitted with a camera and computer equipment to spot cars parked on yellow or zig-zag lines, automatically takes photographs of offenders and then a fine is posted out to the driver.

While council chiefs have stressed the initiative is set up to improve road safety rather than make cash, a potential £26,280 will be raked in if all of the fixed penalty notices go through without appeal.