SOME will see it as the ideal weapon against irresponsible drivers.
Others will regard it as a mobile cash machine for Kirklees Council.
The authority’s CCTV enforcement vehicle will officially hit the road on Monday.
Cameras fitted to the roof of the van are fully automated and produce high-quality images of erring drivers. They also have Automatic Number Plate Recognition, which police use to spot cars which are uninsured.
It can even take pictures on the move.
And although they are not setting targets, officials reckon the man in the van will bring in an astonishing £100,000 a year in parking and penalty fines.
That would mean up to 1,500 drivers who illegally park their cars could be caught over the next 12 months.
And the first any of them will know about it will be when the penalty fine lands on their doormat.
Drivers who will be targeted include those parking on zigzag lines outside schools, parking in loading bays or bus stops, and parking on double yellow lines.
The van will be sent to parking “hotspots” – such as Huddersfield schools where parental parking is a major problem.
And community groups can request the van comes to their area if there is a problem.
A council spokesman said: “The vehicle is set to become a familiar sight as it aims to improve road safety around schools and speed up public transport by reducing dangerous and illegal parking around town centres.
“The move will increase the safety of pupils and parents, as well as local residents, pedestrians and other road users.
“Similar vehicles have been hailed a success in other parts of the country. And, in addition to clamping down on dangerous parking, their very presence is known to deter many motorists from contravening regulations”.
Several Huddersfield schools suffer problems with irresponsible parking by parents, potentially risking serious injury – or worse – to children.
In places like Fixby and Kirkheaton, pupils have teamed up with police to challenge parents over parking issues.
But the mobile camera can also be used to stop people parking at pedestrian crossings and will tackle problems that are reported in town centres, bus stop clearways and cycle lanes.
It will use a pan, tilt and zoom camera mounted on its roof. Inside the vehicle is a high-performance digital recorder.
Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet member for Regeneration, Environment and Transport, said: “First and foremost, we’re taking this action to help protect our local children.
“Outside some schools the number of cars illegally parked is compromising the road safety of children and parents, blocking their view of oncoming traffic and making crossing the road unnecessarily hazardous.
“The reason for zig-zag markings is to create a safe environment for children. There is no mistaking them, it's clearly marked where people should and shouldn’t park and the zig-zags are definitely out of bounds.
“People who abide by the law have nothing to worry about, but we are determined to take action against those who put others at risk.
“The vehicle has automatic number plate recognition and simply drives past and records the contravention.
“A £70 penalty charge notice is then sent out by post, though only after a fully trained officer has reviewed the images to confirm that a contravention occurred.”
The total set-up cost for the scheme is £100,000 and, based on evidence from the parking industry and other councils, it’s expected that this will be recouped within the first 12 months of operation.
Extensive road testing across Kirklees has been positive and has shown that the system captures parking contraventions with accurate, high-quality images.
The council has written to all schools about the vehicle, explaining how it will make roads safer to cross and asking head teachers to inform parents about the enforcement action being taken.
To report parking problems log on to www.kirklees.gov.uk/roads, call
0800 731 8765 (24 hours) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org