FRESH anger is brewing over City of York Council's use of a CCTV spy van to fine unsuspecting drivers on York's roads who have sometimes only parked for a few minutes.
As The Press reported, a CCTV van introduced to stop dangerous parking around schools has been used to crack down on motorists elsewhere in the city.
Traders on Murton Lane have complained about the van targeting customers and deliveries to their premises, and now more complaints have emerged from drivers angry at what they call the cynical targeting of easy sources of revenue for the council.
Michael Amesbury, from York, received two fines exactly 24 hours apart. Mr Amesbury, who is disabled, and his wife had pulled up on a side street off Stonebow in the afternoon to wait as one of them went to the bank nearby.
They have been doing this for almost a year, so were shocked when they received two fine notices, dated April 14 and 15, both at 4.04pm.
"If we had seen the camera van we would have had some advance warning, but we didn't, and there are no signs around telling you cameras are in use."
Mr Amesbury believes the fines could put people off visiting the city centre.
"To know you have caught someone, and then to go back the next day to catch them again really is a bit greedy. If the council continues actions like this, people will just stop going out," he said.
Customers and drivers at nearby Calvert's Carpets have also been affected - sometimes when the vehicle has pulled over for as briefly as a minute.
Owner and MD Trevor Linfoot is so concerned about the damage the fines could do to the business that he has written to the council.
He said: "It's bad enough trying to run a business in the city centre, this is just a mockery. It's really going to dent our business."
Council opposition leader Cllr Chris Steward said the drivers' response was a worrying sign the council had lost the confidence of York residents.
He said: "The camera car was brought in to rightly improve safety around schools and it is vital that remains its job; for the majority of motorists who behave perfectly sensibly it is crucial they cannot question the council’s motives and the fact many now believe the camera car is for revenue rather than safety is extremely concerning. This is the latest in a long line of instances where the Labour council seems to have lost people’s trust and this must be addressed."
But the council has defended its use of the van, saying it would be inefficient to leave the equipment inactive outside the two hours of school drop-off and pick-up times. The car was introduced after calls from headteachers concerned about dangerous parking around their schools, and has the support of police.
A council spokesman said: "The camera car is not used to discourage driving or to drive away customers from businesses in the targeted areas, but to enforce legal and safe parking. If drivers adhere to these restrictions they will not risk being fined."