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Cameras to tackle school run parking

It is something probably many of us have experienced. It is your turn on the school run, you're running a little late, so you decide to simply pull over outside the school gates to drop the little darlings off. You're only there for a few seconds but the trouble is you are on a double yellow line. Still, a quick glance around confirms that there are no parking wardens about, so the kids get dropped and off you go.

It is something probably many of us have experienced. It is your turn on the school run, you're running a little late, so you decide to simply pull over outside the school gates to drop the little darlings off. You're only there for a few seconds but the trouble is you are on a double yellow line. Still, a quick glance around confirms that there are no parking wardens about, so the kids get dropped and off you go. Until now you only had to contend with those easily spotted parking wardens and a few disapproving glances but now there is an unseen foe to reckon with.

Local authorities are now trialling a new system that will spot and record such little indiscretions. Technology company, Videalert, has developed a CCTV type of system that can read the number plates of cars that stop in controlled areas, like double yellow lines or pedestrian crossing zig zags. The licence plate numbers, along with video evidence, are then sent back to a central control centre where they are sent to the relevant authorities to issue parking fines. In London these fines are £130, with a maximum of £70 out with the capital.

Videalert director, Tim Daniels, claims that the £16,000 systems are up to three times cheaper than the current method of using police camera cars parked outside schools. He said: "Our system can be fixed to existing street furniture and programmed to look for specific school-gate offences such as parking on a zigzag line for more than three seconds." It is thought that five London boroughs are trialling the system, with a further two outside the city also running tests. The company says that it decided to develop the system after being approached by a local authority that had become concerned about the safety of school children.

Mr Daniels continued: "The council said head teachers had been complaining about parking outside schools and worrying about the safety of children. Since the first trials started over the summer we have been inundated with requests from other councils across the country asking about the system."

Not everyone, however, approves of the system. Actor, Tom Conti, who has been a vocal campaigner for a fairer system of parking rules, slammed the measures as 'Stasi-style' surveillance techniques and suggested that "To target parents is frankly disgusting."

With councils already under pressure from local authority minister, Eric Pickles, to cut parking charges, they could face stiff opposition should they decide to fully implement the system.

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