PLANS to bring in mobile cameras to police bus lane and parking restrictions in Sheffield have been approved.
A decision on whether to bring in the devices was delayed pending discussion of concerns about the proposals at a meeting of a Sheffield Council scrutiny committee.
However, after the debate, ruling Labour members voted to press ahead with the idea.
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Opposition Lib Dem members raised queries about the scheme during the meeting of the economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny committee.
Under questioning, council officers admitted there was no firm evidence camera enforcement would relieve congestion. But use of cameras would mean they could fine offending motorists who drive off after spotting a warden.
Lib Dems also voiced concerns that in one London borough, cars fitted with mobile cameras to monitor parking rule violations – similar to the ones that will operate in Sheffield – handed out 18,000 fines incorrectly, before the council took them off the road amid protests from local people.
Coun Ian Auckland, shadow cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “I’m disappointed the people of Sheffield can now expect to see spy cars patrolling our streets doling out tickets.
“This will be yet another unfair Sheffield Labour transport policy.
“While we don’t oppose penalising those who flout the rules, we believe action should be based on addressing traffic issues, rather than on purely making as much profit from motorists as possible.”
The mobile parking enforcement cameras will cost £124,000 to introduce, but it is estimated each would catch up to 20 offenders a day, resulting in £160,000 income from fines for the council.
And because that would free up more wardens to patrol the streets, more motorists would be caught, generating a further £24,000 in fines.
And council officers say the proposed new portable camera for bus gates would generate about £80,000 in fines from drivers ignoring restrictions, bringing the total potential income to £264,000 a year.
Kevan Butt, council parking services manager, said: “Enforcement of parking contraventions using mobile cameras will enhance the effectiveness of enforcement.
“More effective enforcement will improve safety around schools, make bus stops more accessible and reduce traffic congestion.”
Sheffield Council’s ruling Labour group accused Lib Dems of ‘hypocrisy’ because they brought in bus lane cameras at locations including Glossop Road while in power between 2008 and last year.
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “This is blatant opportunism from the Lib Dems yet again.
“Only nine months ago, when they still controlled the council, they used cameras to enforce these rules, so this policy is not new at all.”