Council may relieve hard-pressed police of parking enforcement and take it upon themselves - a switch that comes with the likelihood of tougher action

PUBLISHED: 16:49 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 14 October 2020

City Road car park, March (left) and (middle) a day of ticketing action by police in Wisbech and (right) when a bus finds itself with a parking challenge in Wisbech. Pictures; ARCHANT

City Road car park, March (left) and (middle) a day of ticketing action by police in Wisbech and (right) when a bus finds itself with a parking challenge in Wisbech. Pictures; ARCHANT

Archant

A major step forward to clamp down on parking across Fenland towns – that would see enforcement switch from the police to the district council – is being recommended for approval.

Police in Wisbech reacted to complaints of illegal parking with a blitz of the town on Friday morning. They issued 22 fixed penalty notices and reminded motorists the town boasted numerous free car parks. Picture: FEN COPS Police in Wisbech reacted to complaints of illegal parking with a blitz of the town on Friday morning. They issued 22 fixed penalty notices and reminded motorists the town boasted numerous free car parks. Picture: FEN COPS

The cabinet of Fenland Council will be asked to agree to pay £10,000 for a feasibility study to bring forward a business case.

The study will also look at all car parking in the district with a view to bringing in Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE).

It could take up to three years to bring about the change says the council report.

The result could see a dramatic shift to enable free parking to continue unchecked but fines would be issued as part of a revised enforcement policy.

Police in Wisbech ticketed 11 different vehicles for illegal parking in just one morning.Police in Wisbech ticketed 11 different vehicles for illegal parking in just one morning.

Officials estimate the costs associated with implementing CPE would be in the region of £200,000 with an estimated annual revenue cost of £93,350 per annum.

It is considered that the capital costs are likely to remain unchanged, however the actual revenue costs will be very much dependent on the enforcement model implemented.

The combined authority will be asked to help with funding of such a scheme and approval would be needed from the Department of Transport.

On street parking enforcement is currently carried out by police but, says the report they have only limited resources to deal with it.

The ‘Controlled Zone’ in Wisbech town centre where 14 parking tickets were issued in just one morning. Picture: Facebook / Cambs CopsThe ‘Controlled Zone’ in Wisbech town centre where 14 parking tickets were issued in just one morning. Picture: Facebook / Cambs Cops

“Police have an increasing need to prioritise resources to major crime and emergency incidents,” says the report.

“Vehicle owners frequently park in a manner with total disregard to existing traffic regulation orders which prohibit parking or impose time restrictions.”

Fenland Council says that fundamentally the options are limited to increasing on street enforcement via Cambridgeshire Police under the current arrangement whereby all revenue from parking offences are paid to central government as parking contraventions are a criminal offence.

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But with current resource levels this arrangement has proven ineffective.

Secondly is to introduce CPE whereby the highway authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) makes an application for a designation order for CPE to the Department for Transport. The implementation of CPE would enable effective management and enforcement of parking within the Fenland District for both on and off-street parking areas.

Civil parking enforcement is the process for enforcing parking offences as a civil contravention, using the powers under the Traffic Management Act 2004 rather than as a criminal enforcement matter implemented by the police.

Once the CPE regime is set up in an area it is a decision that cannot be reversed.

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“Enforcement can be undertaken by the district by agreement as an appointed agent on behalf of the county council and the majority of on street parking restrictions are then enforced by the district council,” cabinet members will be told.

“Parking contraventions would no longer be a criminal offence but a civil matter subject to penalty charge notices (PCNs) being issued,” says the report.

Police would remain responsible for endorsable offences such as dangerous parking, obstruction, and failure to follow police “no parking” signs in emergency situations.

The feasibility study would also look at the best way to administer appeals, traffic penalty tribunal decision, contract management and day to day operational issues.

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But the report adds: “The scope of works for consideration by the consultant shall deliberately exclude any consideration of car parking charges.”

The report says many car parks are subject to frequent mis-use with vehicles being stored by persons within the motor trade, long term storage of vehicles without tax or mot, mis-use of disabled parking bay and anti-social vehicle activity in the evening.

The council has 19 public car parks and the majority are unregulated with only eight having existing parking places orders in place meaning little enforcement is possible.

March Market Place is the only FDC parking facility whereby fixed penalty notices are issued for overstaying the permitted time. At present enforcement is cost negative, on average costing FDC £8,700 per annum / £116 per ticket with an annual income in the region of £2,600 associated with issuing 70-80 fixed penalty notices per year.

“It is a deterrent to support management of the market.”


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