Plans to turn local buses into ‘Big Brother’ style spies to catch rule-breaking drivers have been roundly criticised by a local Conservative councillor.
The plans would see local buses fitted with cameras on the front to catch drivers breaking rules. The scheme is being trialled by the police in partnership with First Bus in West Somerset. If the scheme is deemed a success, it has been suggested it will be rolled out into other areas in the West of England, including Bath and Bristol.
However, the ‘Big Brother Bus’ plans have been criticised by civil liberties groups for invading personal privacy, with everybody in sight of the bus, not just motorists, being recorded.
Midsomer Norton Conservative Councillor Barry Macrae has slammed the plans and has vowed to fight any expansion of the scheme into the Bath and North East Somerset area.
Cllr Macrae (Cons, Midsomer Norton North) said:
“Putting cameras on the outside of buses to spy on everyone in front is an utterly ludicrous idea. I sincerely hope that the police haven’t paid First Bus for the installation of the cameras, as I’m sure there are much better things which their tightly-stretched budgets can be spent on. If First Bus is being paid for these cameras, it strikes me as just a simple ‘money-earning’ gimmick for the benefit of the bus company.
“I cannot see how this scheme will make any real difference to road safety. Who is going to be sat down watching all the hours of footage from the cameras for a start?
“Perhaps in-turn motorists should take their own photos, safely of course, of the many local buses pulling out without signalling, or double parking whilst picking up – or simply killing-time – at bus-stops.
“There are much better ways of improving road safety than recording unwitting members of the public in their cars, such as better driving training. I will oppose any plans to roll out this scheme to our area.”
Cllr Charles Gerrish (Cons), the Bath and North East Somerset Cabinet Member in charge of transport, added:
“I would not support the expansion of such plans, as reported, into the Bath and North East Somerset area, and would certainly not countenance the council providing any money for such a scheme.”