BOURNEMOUTH and Poole councils have defended their use of camera cars following reports that a ban on using cameras to enforce fines may be announced next month.

Last September local government secretary Eric Pickles labelled camera cars “cash cows”, saying he wanted to curb “overzealous” local authorities which use them to maximise their income from parking fines.

Under new laws due to be announced next month, councils would have to rely on traffic wardens for enforcement and parking penalty charges would be capped.

Bournemouth Council leader John Beesley said the authority receives £5million a year in revenue from parking fees and charges, of which £800,000 comes from penalty charges – including camera car penalties.

“So clearly the lion’s share comes from parking fees we receive from our car parks, which I’m pleased to say offer some of the best value parking in the south coast,” he said.

“In fact, this is the fourth successive year where there has either been no increase in any parking charges whatsoever, or where any small increases have been balanced off against reductions.

“The safety of our local residents is of paramount importance to us, which is why our camera car usage focuses primarily on pedestrian crossings, bus stops, bus lanes and school entrances.”

The Borough of Poole issued 2,423 penalty charge notices from its camera car in the financial year 2012/13.

Cabinet member for transport Ian Potter, below, said the vehicle only recorded parking infringements at school zigzags, bus stops, taxi ranks and no loading/waiting areas as these areas were “difficult to enforce by civil enforcement officers”.

“Since its introduction in September 2011 the camera safety car has been proved an efficient and effective means of improving road safety,” he added.

“The council’s use of the camera car fully conforms to the government’s guidance and legislation relating to CCTV enforcement.

“We will await the full details of Eric Pickles’ proposals, and any implications these may have for Poole, with interest.”

Official opinion on camera cars is different at the other end of the county, where West Dorset District Council has ruled out their use.

A spokesman for the authority said the vehicles were “contrary to the spirit of fair and common sense on-street traffic management”.