Question from: County Councillor James Gibson-Watt Subject: On-street parking enforcement
Could the Portfolio Holder explain the rationale for the Council continuing to enforce on-street parking restrictions in Powys’s market towns during Tier 4 lockdown periods, other than in areas where parking is prohibited (double yellow line areas), when almost all town centre shops are closed and residents are being asked to remain in their homes as much as possible? Does the Council consider on-street parking enforcement to be a business-critical activity?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Enforcement activities are still required during lockdown, not least since parking charges in our off street car parks are still in place and to ensure road safety.
The current lockdown was brought in just before Christmas during a period where the Enforcement Officers were taking leave etc so there was minimal cover over that period.
There will always be the need to provide a level of enforcement to ensure that people still park responsibly and do not cause dangers or obstruction to other road users. Without enforcement we could see people parking in inappropriate places knowing there is little or no chance of them receiving a penalty. We are acutely aware of what happened in Ceredigion during 2011/12 when the Police stopped the traffic warden service and the Council did not employ any Civil Enforcement Officers.
During discussions at the end of the year within the parking industry and the British Parking Association [Wales] the recommendations were that enforcement and parking charges are best continued. This was based on experiences within other areas across the UK where enforcement and charges had been stopped and started during lockdowns etc and caused a fair amount of confusion to the public not knowing what was happening and as a result caused difficulties/criticisms for those Authorities when trying to reintroduce charges and enforcement. You will recall that aside from providing free parking during August last year, parking charges and enforcement we not curtailed within Powys during the pandemic. You will further recall that to change our charging policy would mean Welsh Government would not fund any shortfall in income from the service due to a change in policy and this would add increasing pressures unsustainably on service budgets which would have to cover the losses.
Nonetheless, whilst enforcement is still considered a critical activity to ensure roads are safe unimpeded, a practical approach is being undertaken and whilst you will still see their presence within towns and communities, the wardens will be using their discretion and will be advising in the first instance. Issuing a Penalty Charge Notice is very much the last resort where it is necessary.