THEY say the camera never lies – but try telling that to the hundreds of motorists wrongly accused of inconsiderate parking by Bournemouth’s camera car.

An Echo investigation has revealed that in the past three years 481 innocent drivers received £70 fines in error.

Upon contacting Bournemouth council, their penalty notices were immediately cancelled without them having to lodge a formal appeal.

The camera car was originally intended to catch motorists who park on school zigzags and bus stops but is now also used to catch people on double yellow lines where there is no loading or unloading and is also set to be used to patrol taxi ranks.

By the end of last year, more than 4,500 fines had been handed out – but figures received under the Freedom of Information Act show that 122 of these were then cancelled as soon as the motorist contacted Bournemouth council.

In the period April 2010 to March 2011, 196 fines were cancelled in the first instance and in the 2009/10 163 fines were written off.

One of the drivers to have received a fine in error was Dave Hucker, of Canford Heath. He said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” to receive a £70 fine for parking on a bus stop in Wimborne Road, when he knew he had never done such a thing.

“I was really quite annoyed about it,” he said.

“I contacted the council and they said they would look into it. Then I viewed the CCTV footage online and it simply showed me driving past the bus stop in question.

“If you look at the freeze frame then yes it looked as though I was parked there but when you look at the video footage you can see that I don’t even brake as I go past the bus stop, I simply drove straight through it.

“I then got a letter from them saying that they had reviewed the video footage and it was apparent my vehicle was moving and they had cancelled the fine.

“It did upset me, I wasted a whole afternoon investigating it and it made me think it’s just a money-making exercise.

“I want to warn others who might have received a fine in error to always challenge it, not to just accept it and pay up.”

Mike Holmes, the council’s service director for planning and transport, said: “We give full consideration into all individual cases and take mitigating circumstances into account.

“We do this in order to ensure a fair and consistent approach.

“Any motorist receiving a fine can appeal against a ticket through the contact details given on their penalty charge notice.”