A GOVERNMENT announcement that CCTV "spy cars", which catch people parking illegally, are to be banned has been dismissed as "populist posturing" in Bradford.

The move, announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, is designed to rein in "greedy councils" who use the method of fining as a "cash cow" and bring to an end the "plague" of tickets being issued by post.

But it will not affect the current use of a £50,000 spy car which Bradford Council bought last year, said Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the executive member with responsibility for parking matters.

Although parking wardens will instead have to fix tickets directly to windscreens under ordinary circumstances, councils can still use CCTV to issue postal tickets for any offences that occur on critical routes - such as those near schools and bus lanes, bus stops and on "red routes".

The ban is being introduced to tackle "over-zealous parking enforcement practices", which the government says has forced people to shop in out-of-town centres or online, and give motorists and local shops a "fairer deal".

Mr Pickles, a former leader of Bradford Council, said: "CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls.

"Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term.

"The government is taking urgently needed action to ban this clear abuse of CCTV which should be used to catch criminal and not as a cash cow," he said.

The ban follows a three-month consultation period.

But Cllr Hinchcliffe said as Bradford's CCTV car was only used near schools or the areas permitted, there would be no change in local tactics.

"This is just populist posturing by Eric Pickles and it will make no difference in Bradford where we only use it to improve the safety of school children or on bus lanes and red routes," she said.

"There is an election coming up and this is political."