New parking wardens expected to issue £120,000 in fines
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 January 2019
North Somerset councillors have slammed a 'heavy-handed' move by its executive to hire two new parking officers who are expected to issue fines totalling £120,000.
Central ward councillor Mike Bell accused the council of ‘ignoring’ public concerns over rising fines after a recruitment drive increased the number of parking enforcement officers to 11.
Cllr Bell said: “I am concerned the target is being introduced at a time when the council is supposed to be reviewing parking.
“We are always being told parking wardens do not have targets for tickets issued, but the only way this £120,000 income can be achieved is by issuing more fines. Weston already contributes more than £2million in parking charges to council coffers. It’s about time the council gave people a break.”
The additional revenue has already been included in the council’s budget for 2019.
Zoe Briffitt, spokesman for North Somerset Council, said the revenue generated by additional fines would be spent on improving highways and transportation in the district.
She said: “Recruiting two new officers will mean the patrols they carry out will be more efficient and wide ranging. This will inevitably mean they will come across more parking infringements and issue more penalty notices.”
The council took responsibility for parking enforcement in April 2017. Regulation has since become a hot topic in Weston, with many people arguing enforcement is stiffling growth in the town centre.
An online Mercury poll from June 2018 found 36 per cent of readers were in favour of reducing parking charges in the town centre, while 25 per cent wanted to scrap them altogether.
Council leader Nigel Ashton promised a cross-party review in January.
However, despite multiple appeals from councillors, it appears the ongoing review will be conducted by officers and members of the executive.
Cllr Bell said: “Councillors have tabled an amendment to the council budget that would prevent this target’s being implemented.
“We have instead called for the introduction of resident parking zones, free parking periods and cheaper charges across the board.
“Either the council is having a fair and open review, or it is not.”