A new CCTV car will be used in Bolton to stop motorists from parking irresponsibly and keep school children safe.
The small Smart car is fitted with monitoring equipment and has a 3.6m high mast with a camera attached.
The aim of bringing this car into operation is to prevent people parking illegally and potentially causing problems for others, especially around schools, where children are often in danger of being run over by cars which park on keep clear lines.
The specially modified car is currently being tested until the end of September, to finalise the areas it will monitor once it comes into operation.
During the testing period, the vehicle will be gathering data on suspected problem parking areas in the borough, including school keep clear zones, single and double yellow lines and loading restrictions.
No penalty charges will be issued during this time - anyone seen parking their vehicle illegally will receive a letter advising them they were committing an offence and asking them to refrain from doing it again.
Penalty charge notices will be issued to vehicles parking illegally once the testing period is over. The rate of the fine is set at £70, which is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days. Notices will be posted to individuals who commit the offence.
Details of sites which the car will be monitoring will be available on the Bolton Council website once they are finalised, and signage will also be in place alerting motorists that a camera is in operation.
The car, which is clearly visible and displays traffic enforcement camera logos, will be operated by NSL Services, who carry out on-street parking enforcement for Bolton Council. It is also clearly marked with the council's distinctive logo to make it instantly recognisable to members of the public.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services, said, “We get a lot of calls from head teachers about parking around the school gates being a problem and this car will help keep our children safe, and also keep Bolton moving safely. Feedback we’ve had from other councils where the car is used, is that it’s proved effective in improving pedestrian safety, reducing traffic accidents and congestion.”
He added: “It’s not our intention to go in heavy handed. We want to be open and upfront about what we’re doing. What we want to do during the trial is identify the problem areas and let people know we have this car before we start enforcing. We will be sending letters to all the schools in Bolton and businesses, where congestion is a problem. We’re hoping that it can actually improve people’s view that parking enforcement is fair because the camera never lies.”
Tim Cowen, from NSL, added: “The CCTV Smart car has proven to be very effective in areas where you may only have traffic pressures for a short period, such as outside schools at the beginning and end of the school day. They are also very high profile and easy to spot – so they tend to be very good at reminding drivers of the need to park safely and legally.”
The council will also be using the Smart car for bus lane enforcement at a later stage and more details around this will be released early next year.