Question from: County Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe Subject: Parking enforcement for safety issues
I read with interest your response to Cllr James Gibson-Watt re parking enforcement.
I think PCC are missing the point.
The main issue is that I'm not seeing safety issues, in fact you are risking safety around covid19 and people having to move their cars to ensure they are not fined. What my residents are seeing and raising with me is they are just simply parking time enforcement to make money out of the people of Hay. I walk through Hay most days and see the streets with not much traffic and a main carpark with about 10 cars in it. Hay will need as much support like other towns in Powys when we come out of lockdown and at that point I agree we should be enforcing to support businesses to ensure we have turn round and streets are not full of cars thus reducing opportunities to park and shop. At present it is just driving people away. I would also want to say the enforcement officers are only doing their job that they are only doing what they are instructed to do.
In light of this can you give clear guidance to ensure its only safety issues are enforced during lock down?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Whilst we are in Tier 4 lockdown, there are still a number of essential shops/businesses that remain open within our town centres and this does create a demand for on street parking. The number of shops that can open in this lockdown is greater than it was during the original lockdown and we are seeing a higher level of activity in towns because of this. Therefore, it is still essential that we ensure sufficient turnaround of spaces within the towns for visitors to those shops/businesses. The Enforcement Officers are still patrolling the town centres and have to act fairly and consistently across the county and thus simply cannot ignore people in one town and not in another. Nonetheless they are affording more discretion than they might during normal situations.
Within Hay there is also the residents parking scheme and some residents do pay for the privilege of parking within parts of the town where otherwise it would be limited to a 1 hour stay. We have to be fair to those residents who expect a level of enforcement to take place to ensure the spaces they can park with a permit are not blocked out by non-permit holders. It is also unfair to them to allow other residents to park unrestricted within the town where their permit is not valid.
I can assure you that the issuing of PCNs is not for financial gain since the Welsh Government, under the Covid-19 Hardship Fund, is currently subsidising any shortfall within the parking service. However, they are clear in that any change in policy would mean that they would not cover these losses hence enforcement still has to take place to enable us to claim any shortfall in income through PCNs.
It is also prudent to continue with a level of enforcement as in this way there are no ambiguities which would be created with the stop/start of enforcement activities. This ambiguity has caused problems with confusion in other areas of the UK when recommencing enforcement. Because of this the British Parking Association recommended not halting enforcement.
Although PCNs may have been issued, there is the opportunity for those recipients to appeal against them. This appeals process is a fair process and allows people to access an independent tribunal should their initial appeals be not upheld. For this process to remain fair and impartial, the Welsh government statutory guidance makes it clear any decisions should not be influence by elected representatives and hence neither I, or indeed any other elected member of this authority, are allowed to get involved in that process.