Council pledge to penalise bad parkers will be good news for the rest of us

Bad parking in March as councillors clamp down on issue

Councillor Jan French (inset), deputy leader of Fenland District Council, said she does not see how the council's plans to clamp down on parking in the area would not be approved. - Credit: FDC/Archant

Numbers getting a parking fine in Fenland could quadruple once enforcement switches from police to the district council, councillors were told.  

Figures presented to the cabinet of Fenland Council showed that in 2017, for instance, police issued 445 fixed penalty offences. 

But if police agree to decriminalise parking and support it becoming a civil matter, enforcement would be stepped up massively.  

Jan French, the deputy leader of Fenland District Council, said she cannot see why plans for the council to clamp down on parking in the area would not be approved.  

“Looking at the 316 local authorities that received approval, I can’t see any reason why they would not authorise our plans as it takes the burden off police,” she said.  

Fenland Council will ask Cambridgeshire County Council to apply to the Department for Transport on its behalf for a Civil Parking Enforcement order (CPE).  

Phase one of a feasibility study into CPE was presented to the cabinet on Monday.  

Double decker bus trapped by bad parking in Wisbech

A double decker bus trapped down a Wisbech street due to bad parking, something that Fenland District Council bid to clamp down on. - Credit: John Anker

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If CPE is approved, Fenland Council will take charge of on-street parking enforcement in the district from police and will also be decriminalised.  

“Police don’t have the resources and the complaints we get on a regular basis are about bad parking, such as on double yellow lines,” Cllr French said.  

“To my knowledge, police have no objections.”  

A £400,000 grant from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to cover “all associated costs” has been agreed. 

Fenland Council says CPE is likely to be contracted out to an external provider since this offered “the most financial viability”.  

Fenland Council is likely to need between £45,000 and £75,000 to run the scheme.  

But with the income through parking tickets, or penalty charge notices, cash to meet the deficit will be coming in. 

Councillor leads calls for tougher parking enforcement

Cllr Jan French said most complaints that Fenland District Council receive regularly is related to bad parking. - Credit: FDC

“We’re hoping the first six months there would be more penalties, but we think we’ll have few people that will break the rules. There are funds available,” she said.  

As part of the plans, Fenland Council would deploy civil enforcement officers across the district, who would focus on restricting obstructive parking and reducing overstaying at time-limited spaces.  

Cllr French said it’s unclear how many enforcement officers would be needed and how much it would cost to deploy them.  

Fenland Council, which first thought about the CPE scheme in 2019, also said it has “no intention” to introduce paid-for parking in off-street areas.  

“Especially with Covid, people are struggling and the last thing they want is being charged to park,” Cllr French said.  

The cabinet has agreed for a consultant to guide the council through the CPE process: it will cost around £30,000.  

“The next stage is we have to look at every sign and road marking across Fenland,” Cllr French said.   

“If we need new signs, we have to pay for them and that is what we will do.  

“We’ve got to check dozens of signs because if they’re not correct, anyone that gets a penalty can appeal and win.”  

Fenland Council promises to keep free car parks

Fenland District Council have promised to keep its car parks, such as City Road in March (pictured), free for motorists under their Civil Parking Enforcement plans. - Credit: FDC

Cllr French was in favour of holding a public consultation on the CPE scheme next year, which although the cabinet said was not mandatory, said was key as part of the application process.  

“We have bad parking all over the place, particularly outside schools,” she said.   

“We will have officers going round Fenland and they will speak to parish councillors as we know they suffer a lot with this. It’s not just about the towns.   

“This is something that affects everybody, and I think it’s only right we do this.”  

Fenland Council said the process should take between eight to 12 months, and it’s hoped CPE can be in place by spring 2023. 

The cabinet heard that “if a decision is made to adopt CPE powers, the support of Cambridgeshire Police would be paramount to the success of the application to the Department for Transport for the powers.  

“Police traffic enforcement has reduced in recent years associated with both having limited resources at their disposal and prioritisation of crime and serious incidents. 

“However, it is understood that the police wish to see more enforcement on street.”