Parking 'greed' put before safety - councillor

PUBLISHED: 08:19 16 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:19 16 July 2014

Illegal parking in Upper Church Road. While council ticket wardens patrol the bays, they cannot ticket the three cars on double yelloes even if they block access to  Greenfield Place. July 8, 2014

Illegal parking in Upper Church Road. While council ticket wardens patrol the bays, they cannot ticket the three cars on double yelloes even if they block access to Greenfield Place. July 8, 2014

Archant

POLICE 'inaction' and council 'greed' wrongly mean drivers have a better chance of avoiding fines by parking on double yellow lines, according to a Weston councillor.

In a 12-month period, four times more tickets were handed out to North Somerset drivers who had parked safely in a designated parking bay, than those parked on double yellow lines.

The figures have seen critics say revenue is being prioritised over public safety.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s executive member for transport, told drivers they would be ‘foolish’ to think they can get away with parking on pavements and double yellow lines.

While the council monitors car parks and Weston’s on-street pay and display scheme, it has refused to take on monitoring other parking offences.

It means, uniquely in North Somerset, in many roads the police are responsible for patrolling one side of the street and the council the other.

However the system will not be changed for the foreseeable future.

From November 2012-13, 2,690 tickets were handed out by North Somerset Council, but over the same length of time, from April 2013-14, the police served just 780 fines.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “We continue to look at civil parking enforcement but at present do not see how this can break even if we are to treat the whole district fairly.”

He said the council will solve some of the problems – by removing double yellow lines.

He said: “We continue to support 
the police taking firm action against 
illegal on-street parking. Drivers would be foolish to assume they’ll get away with it.

“We will continue to remove unnecessary yellow lines where they have no safety benefit, allowing the police to concentrate on the more flagrant and dangerous parking.”

But critics say the efforts do not go far enough.

Cllr Mike Bell, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, said years of ‘inaction and unfairness’ have led to the problems in Weston, with the town’s motorists paying £2.3million to the council in fines and parking charges last year.

He said: “Weston is hit by more fines, higher charges and on-street parking fees in a way that no other part of North Somerset is. It hits business, tourism and residents in the pocket every day.

“Illegal and inconsiderate parking, high parking charges and the lack of fair residents’ parking permits - on all these issues, the council has done nothing.

“Instead of greedily collecting parking fees and issuing fines, raking in millions, they should urgently address these issues.”

He said the lack of action by police to tackle parking on double yellow lines and the council’s subsequent refusal to take on more responsibility, sends the ‘wrong signal’.

Cllr Bell added: “Currently, it’s not about enforcing the law, delivering safer streets or better parking. It’s all about money.

“The council could at least be honest and say it’s all about the money.”

Tim Taylor, who will stand for Labour at next year’s General Election, said the council should take on a greater role, allowing police to concentrate on ‘more serious crimes’.

Weston inspector Sharon Bennett, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, agreed.

She added: “We know illegal, antisocial or inconsiderate parking can be extremely frustrating. We are working with the council to prevent and deal with incidents in the most effective and efficient method.

“As with all policing issues, crimes, incidents and cases of antisocial 
behaviour, we prioritise then allocate
our resources and time according to need.

“We firmly believe the majority of people would rather see officers dealing with crime and antisocial behaviour, and parking in the town centre dealt with by dedicated parking attendants.

“However, where parking causes either a danger to motorists or pedestrians, or severe inconvenience, we will take proactive action.”

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