Online abuse of Weston's parking wardens reported to police

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 February 2018

Allan Taylor, North Somerset Council's parking services and civil enforcement manager.

Allan Taylor, North Somerset Council's parking services and civil enforcement manager.

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Incidents of 'abusive and threatening behaviour' against Weston-super-Mare's parking wardens on social media have been reported to the police by North Somerset Council.

The council has spoken out in support of its wardens, stating it will not stand for mistreatment of employees who have a right to do their job ‘without fear of reprisal’.

Parking became the hot topic in the town centre last April when wardens returned to the streets for the first time in 20 years when the council began its civil parking enforcement (CPE) regime.

CPE, which saw the authority take control of North Somerset parking regulation from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, has been heavily criticised by businesses, shoppers and town centre residents.

Wardens too have been criticised for being heavy-handed and implementing the rules without common sense.

And regulations could be bolstered further if Sunday parking charges, which have been mooted by the council, are brought into place.

But the council believes public frustration over the scheme has gone too far, with its wardens subjected to a torrent of threats and abuse on social media.

One warden in particular has been targeted by frustrated motorists, with derogatory posters being shared online and subsequently adorned around the town.

The council has responded sating it will ‘not tolerate abusive, threatening or violent behaviour against our employees’.

A spokesman said: “Regardless of whether these threats are made in person or online, they will be reported to the police and action may be taken against the individuals concerned.

“All of our employees have the right to carry out their duties without fear of reprisal. Some of our officers wear body cameras so that we have evidence of their interactions with the public while at work.

“This is for their own protection and also can be used as evidence in the event there are differences of opinion regarding events.

“In the case of our civil enforcement officers we have recently reported to the police all instances we are aware of where threats or abusive comments have been made on social media.

“If anyone in receipt of a car parking fine wishes to contest it they can do so on our website.”

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