City council's spy car is caught parking 'illegally' in Hanley
A SPY car which has raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds by snaring motorists as they drive through bus lanes is repeatedly parking 'illegally' in the city centre.
The Sentinel has captured Stoke-on-Trent City Council's CCTV enforcement vehicle in loading-only bays in Huntbach Street, Hanley, and on double yellow lines.
Shoppers have criticised the council for its double standards in allowing wardens to leave the spy car in places where regular drivers would be fined.
The authority says the vehicle is exempt from traffic rules and is deployed 'in the interests of safety'.
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Shopper Sabrina Lillie, aged 21, an administration assistant from Porthill, said: "I can understand why the council is monitoring the situation because driving in bus lanes can cause crashes.
"But they should also practice what they preach. It's not fair if they're going to fine someone for driving offences and then go and do it themselves. If they want to be taken seriously, they should abide by their own rules."
The car has hit more than 5,600 motorists with £60 fines for using a disputed 20-metre bus lane which cuts out a 1.3-mile detour to reach two car parks from a vantage point in Huntbach Street, which is intended exclusively for commercial vehicles delivering goods to nearby shops.
The car has also been spotted on double yellow lines outside the Potteries Shopping Centre.
Pam Harrison, of Oversley Road, Fegg Hayes, was one driver who received a £60 fine for using Huntbach Street.
The 62-year-old, pictured below with her fine, said: "The car was parked on double yellow lines when it clocked me. The whole situation is just laughable. It makes me not want to go into Hanley anymore."
It emerged last week that bailiffs have been called in to recover fines from hundreds of motorists who have refused to pay bus lane fines.
The council has issued more than 8,761 tickets for bus lane offences across the city centre since bringing in the £80,000 spy car in October 2010 – pocketing between £196,000 and £391,000 from the 6,524 motorists who have paid up.
Philip Barnes, aged 34, an Army sergeant from Wolstanton, said: "It's a bit of a contradiction if they're issuing traffic fines and then have been caught out themselves.
"They should be brought to task like anyone else. If the council's giving out these penalties, it should set a good example." Ian Tamburello, the city council's strategic manager for enforcement, said: "Enforcement vehicles are exempt from restrictions on highways when they are carrying out enforcement duties.
"Wherever possible, the enforcement vehicles park legally and only park in restricted areas in exceptional circumstances.
"If people didn't break the road regulations, there would be no need for enforcement vehicles to visit the street.
"Huntbach Street has double yellow lines and the safest place for the vehicle to park without causing a hazard is in a loading bay.
"Should vehicles making deliveries to premises on the street need to use the bay, then the enforcement vehicle will move from the space."