Welcome to the ‘wild west’ where drivers park where they like, block entrances and ignore yellow lines - yes folks, it’s Fenland but can it change?
- Credit: Archant
‘Wild west’ parking is affecting residents, businesses and the quality of life, Fenland councillors were told.
Independent councillor Mike Cornwell detailed a catalogue of complaints when he introduced a motion to yesterday's full council meeting calling for action to be taken.
He said that in the run-up to the local elections residents complained to him about scant regard being shown to parking.
Residents, he said, were "concerned and annoyed about motorists ignoring parking restrictions, blocking footpaths by inconsiderate parking, parking dangerously near school entrances, blocking private entrances and parking very close to road junctions".
Cllr Cornwell said other local councils had opted for civil parking enforcement and this had been introduced successfully in conjunction with other street based services.
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"The effect of what I referred to in my election manifesto as 'wild west parking in Fenland' affects almost every Fenland resident through individual safety, public safety, business continuity and sustainability, the environment and quality of life," he said.
"I strongly believe that Fenland must deliver services that its public wants and which improve their quality of life."
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His proposal urged the council to work within current legislation to bring in civil enforcement although his motion was altered - and amended - following an intervention by deputy leader Cllr Jan French.
She agreed that many Fenland residents were "concerned and annoyed" about parking issues and pointed out that several of her cabinet colleagues had already met with officers to begin exploring what could be done to bring about civil enforcement.
She said that on July 4 officers had produced a "draft briefing note" relating to the coordination of both off-street and on-street parking to include the "potential adoption" of civil parking enforcement.
"This council also notes with approval that the draft briefing note excludes the introduction by Fenland District Council of paid parking in the district's car parks".
It will mean, effectively, that civil enforcement happens then pay parking will be excluded from new regulations. Until now most local councils opting for civil enforcement have been obliged to accept paid parking as part of the arrangements.
Cllr Steve Count said that at a time when High Streets in Fenland, and nationally, are facing a downward trend, the last thing the council needs to do is introduce paid parking.
Cllr French's amendment means that any approval relating to off-street and on-street parking provision would "explicitly exclude the introduction by the council of paid parking".
Supporting the idea of civil parking enforcement, Cllr Steve Tierney said that everyone knew how important parking issues are and "of course the council should do something about it".
Cllr Tierney has always remained sceptical about the chances of separating civil enforcement from pay parking.
In a blog from two years ago, for instance, he wrote that "in almost every instance, the decriminalisation of parking works hand-in-hand with paid parking in car parks, and on-street paid parking.
"That's the way councils usually make the schemes pay. So if we do decide to follow other bits of the country and decriminalise parking, we will also be following other bits of the country in moving to fees for parking in our car parks and in key areas on our roads.
"This is likely to have a big effect on the area, and it is the main reason why decriminalisation of parking has been considered and rejected before."
At a recent town council meeting in Wisbech, a senior officer told councillors that "we are aware that parking within Wisbech is a problem and a growing concern, both PCSOs' and PCs' have the power to be able to deal with such parking matters and all are instructed to deal with it when they come across it.
"That being said the issue of parking is not something that I will directly request officers to go out and deal with as their main aim.
"We have to manage our workload and prioritise problems based on the level of risk attached to each particular issue. With this in mind we are now well into the summer season and PCSO's are out on foot patrol more regular and PC's have also been encouraged during their patrols to also be on foot more.
"This should allow for parking matters to be identified and dealt with more often."