Where most Hartlepool parking tickets are given - as new 'camera car' is promised

A continued crackdown on problem parking is likely to herald the arrival of a new camera car to assist council officers.
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The existing vehicle snared 1,846 offenders in its first 10 months – an average of more than six a day – after it was introduced in Hartlepool in May 2011.

While road safety bosses hailed it a success, many motorists criticised its actions as “unfair”.

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Now Hartlepool Borough Council has revealed it is looking to “procure a new updated version”.

Hartlepool Borough Council's camera carHartlepool Borough Council's camera car
Hartlepool Borough Council's camera car

Launched primarily to tackle offences near schools, the £40,000 car uses what was initially the latest Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to identify vehicles parked on yellow lines or in bus lanes.

​​Phil Hepburn, council community safety and operations manager, has told the authority’s latest neighbourhood services committee meeting: “We’ve got a programme in place for school enforcement that we’ll be rolling out, so that every school will get a visit at different times of the day.

“In relation to the camera car, we’re looking to procure a new updated version, because that car’s about 10 years old I think now, so there’s lots of things that have moved on.”

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Cllr Shane Moore, the council’s leader, described the camera car as “useful”, adding: “There are some issues that we’re going to have to address, and if we’re not enforcing parking issues around school zones then it’s going to make other decisions very difficult, and I’d like to see that stepped up if possible.”

Phil Hepburn pictured with the camera car not long after its 2011 launch.Phil Hepburn pictured with the camera car not long after its 2011 launch.
Phil Hepburn pictured with the camera car not long after its 2011 launch.

The meeting also learned how the 2,202 penalty charge notices issued across town in 2020-21 was less than half the 4,451 figure for 2019-20.

A breakdown contained in the council’s annual parking report states the Victoria ward saw the most notices issued with 1,064, followed by Seaton with 739 and Burn Valley with 277.

Sylvia Pinkney, council assistant director for regulatory services, said: “The reporting period includes a period of national lockdown.

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“Subsequent enforcement measures associated with the pandemic and therefore activities during this time can be seen in this context to be carried out in unusual circumstances.”

The Mail's front page headline back in June 2012.The Mail's front page headline back in June 2012.
The Mail's front page headline back in June 2012.

The camera car’s 1,846 penalty notices in 2011-12 triggered fines totalling around £80,000.

The latest report before councillors, however, stressed civil parking enforcement was introduced in order to “improve compliance with restrictions, not, as often perceived, to generate income”.