ALMOST £25,000 has been paid in fines by reckless drivers caught out by Peterborough City Council’s new roving Smart car in its first three months.
The vehicle has a state-of-the-art automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera to take photos of cars breaking rules of the road.
The authority’s nine traffic enforcement officers take it in turns to drive the car around, while the other eight remain on foot.
Since it came into force on October 27, the vehicle has issued and processed 1,453 fines – raising a total of £24,388.10.
By comparison, when all nine traffic enforcement officers patrol the streets they issue an average of 1,300 fines per month.
Councillor Peter Hiller, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and planning for Peterborough City Council, said: “The CCTV car is proving to be effective.
“Along with our civil enforcement officers, it’s another resource that we can use.
“It helps us to patrol parking hotspots across the entire city.
“We want to ensure that the traffic flow is as smooth as possible at all times to help everyone move easily from place to place.
“If people are stopping and parking inconsiderately outside schools, on clearways, taxi ranks and next to bus stops, it can create traffic jams and congestion which can delay law-abiding motorists and emergency services.
“Ultimately, I hope the number of contraventions the camera records will reduce over time.
“Then we will know the message about parking correctly will have got through.”
The Smart car roves around roads where bad driving has been a particular nuisance, with the most number of offences recorded at Midgate and Broadway.
Once an offence is spotted, the ANPR sends the fine to the car owner’s address.
The fine is £70, but if it is paid within 21 days it drops to £35. If it is paid after 28 days the fine rises to £105.
The month-by-month breakdown of fines starts from September 2011, when the system was trialled and spotted one offence.
It started fully on October 27 and in that month 42 fines worth £735 were paid by drivers.
The next month that number jumped up to 469 fines, worth £10,682.50, and then in December there were 619 fines issued worth £11,220.60.
This month’s figures go up until January 24, when there were 322 fines issued with £1,750 collected so far.
The money goes to Peterborough City Council but the scheme has been criticised by some quarters.
A TaxPayers’ Alliance spokeswoman said: “With this Smart car raking in so much cash in fines some taxpayers will suspect this is more about raising revenue than road safety.
“Of course motorists should drive and park responsibly but in many other cities they do so without the threat of fines from roving enforcement cars.”
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, also voiced his concerns.
He said: “These cameras not only generate a much higher number of incorrect penalties, but they are yet another way of spying on law abiding citizens.”
Where the 1,453 fines came from:
338 - Midgate
275 - Broadway
101 - Hartwell Way
93 - Lynch Wood
91 - New Road
83- Phorpres Close
74 - Stirling Way
64 - Bakewell Road
61 - Flaxley Road
43 - Ivatt Way
42 - Southgate Way 20 - Ashton Road
17 - Bourges Blvd
15 - Thorpe Wood
14 -Newcombe Way 13 - Morley Way
11 -Oundle Road
10 - Lincoln Road
9 - Katharine Way
8 - Queens Drive Wst
7 - Burghley Road, Gresley Way and Northminster Road
5 - Tresham Road
4 - Bretton Way, Eastern Avenue, Shrewsbury Avenue, Park Road
3 - Eastern Close, Phorpres Way, Taveners Road
2 - Acacia Avenue, Chapel St, Chestnut Avenue, Fletton Ave
1 - Atherstone Ave, Beech Rd, Bradwell Rd, Cattlemarket Rd, Cowgate, Northminster, Hargate Way, Lilac Rd, Myrtle Ave, Northfield Rd, Western Ave, Winwick Place
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