Anger as Stoke-on-Trent City Council's 'spy car' parks illegally to fine drivers
TRADERS and shoppers are calling for a city council 'spy' car to be moved on – because it parks illegally to fine thousands of drivers.
Sentinel readers have taken pictures of the car parked in a loading bay in Huntbach Street, in Hanley.
The car has captured 4,364 motorists who have been hit with £60 parking fines since April, 2011 after being filmed driving along the bus lane in Huntbach Street.
But Stoke-on-Trent City Council officials will not move the car which is exempt from normal traffic regulations.
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Instead they say the vehicle is being parked as a deterrent to try to stop motorists driving along the bus lane.
Most motorists are being caught as they try to reach Meigh Street car park and avoid a 1.3-mile detour to the same car park.
Pensioner Patrick Dunne took photographs of the car in the loading bay last week after reading in The Sentinel about how many motorists were being caught by the camera.
The 75-year-old, of Worcester Close, Talke, said: "I saw the CCTV car parked in the loading bay in Huntbach Street, with about four cars parked behind, all the way up to the double yellow lines at the traffic lights. This caused a lot of traffic to build up there because some motorists hadn't realised that these cars had parked there.
"The situation was really dangerous because it's a really narrow road and I've seen the front of buses hang over the pavements when turning around the corner because cars are parked on that loading bay.
"I even went over to some of the drivers parked there and told them they were causing a back-up of cars and two of them told me it's okay for them to park there because the CCTV enforcement car was there."
Trader Moses Keshavarz, owner of Allens Bakery, says the spy car is parked in the loading bay almost every day.
The 58-year-old said: "The only reason the car is parked there is to catch motorists who go into the bus lane. It's clearly a money-making scheme for the council.
"But the motorists who go into that bus lane are only going through to get to the car parks. They are not causing any problems so it's silly that they are getting fined."
Kevin Jones, owner of the Oatie Mostons mobile unit in Hanley, said: "That car is always parked there because the council knows it is going to get a certain amount of money from drivers going into that bus lane. Customers have often told me that the car causes congestion around that corner, while it's parked there."
Latest figures show 8,074 motorists have been caught driving in the city's 12 bus lanes since April, 2011.
The Huntbach Street bus lane tops the list, followed by Stafford Street, in Hanley, with 1,628 fines and Hinde Street, in Hanley, with 767 victims.
City Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for transportation, said: "It is vital that the enforcement vehicle is parked in a safe place and is clearly visible to motorists. The point of the car is to encourage motorists to change their behaviour – it is prevention rather than cure.
"We want people to see the car in Huntbach Street before they reach the bus lane to remind them that it is only to be used by public transport. By highlighting this to motorists, we are giving them ample opportunity to travel another way, and abide by the law.
"This presence, coupled with the street signs and road markings, should send out a strong message to drivers not to flout the rules. If a delivery vehicle needs to use the loading bay then the enforcement vehicle will move out of the way."