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Spy car to stop illegal parking near schools

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A camera car will patrol Sandwell schools under plans to catch out parents who park illegally and put children at risk, it was revealed today.

Sandwell Council bosses will fit a camera to one of the authority's vehicles in a move which aims to weed out bad drivers on the school run under the £45,000 plans.

The proposal comes despite the government saying it wants to make the cars illegal, with local government secretary Eric Pickles saying they are just a way for councils to make money.

Bosses say they are responding to public concerns about safety and would use the car in locations that are hotspots for complaints.

The camera that is fitted to the vehicle would cost around £35,000 and the equipment to operate it around £6,000. Annual maintenance of the camera and equipment would be around £4,000.

Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper rebutted the criticism of Mr Pickles, saying: "We're aware of Eric Pickles' views – but our paramount concern is the safety of people on our roads, especially children, and the need for us to respond to persistent reports about illegal parking near our schools. This plan is not about the council making money but acting responsibly and responding to Sandwell people's real concerns."

Bosses hope any fines issued through the scheme and the presence of the camera car itself will deter motorists from parking illegally and improve safety.

Councillor Maria Crompton, the borough's highways boss, will be asked to approve the scheme at a meeting on March 31.

Councillor Crompton said: "We know how concerned people are about road safety particularly on routes to and outside schools. This is an issue people keep reporting to us.

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"We know most motorists do take care and park legally, but we need to get the message through to the minority who don't.

"We carried out a trial last year, which was well-received by residents, staff and parents when the vehicle was spotted around schools.

"Children's safety is our top priority, so we plan to introduce this scheme to help keep them safe.

"We hope the car will act as a deterrent and help make sure drivers take the time to find alternative legal parking places so that our children and other road users are not put at risk or obstructed."

Wolverhampton City Council has been used a car to catch drivers parking outside the city's schools since November 2012.

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