More fines for drivers if changes go ahead
PROPOSED changes to parking could see wardens issuing more fines, according to a local authority insider.
Plans by Devon County Council will alter the way civil parking enforcement is managed by April 2014.
The district council has run the service on behalf of the county council since 2008 when the Government transferred parking powers from the police to local councils.
It was originally anticipated that on-street services would operate at a zero budget, with the cost of enforcement being outweighed by the income from Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). But in reality the costs have increased significantly over the past few years and exceeded the income from fines.
A report into on-street parking enforcement, published in January, revealed a deficit of £795,000 in 2011/12 – a 30 per cent increase since the previous year.
To reduce the debt the existing on-street civil parking enforcement agreement will be terminated and the service will be run through either the county council or a private company.
The insider has told the Gazette the proposals could mean pressures from higher management to increase revenue and therefore issue more fines.
They said: "The report mentions meeting targets and at the moment enforcement officers aren't under any pressure to meet targets. This could result in officers having to issue fines as much as they can – for example, if the back wheels of your car are just touching a set of double yellow lines, a fine would have to be given.
"As it stands Mid Devon doesn't have any on-street parking meters – they're more common in areas of Devon with a higher level of tourism – but we could see those coming into force, too."
The source has also suggested that while they will remain on the same contracts, officers could be covering districts from all over the county.
Currently there are four officers covering all of Mid Devon, mainly Tiverton, Crediton and Cullompton.
Mid Devon District Council has opposed the current proposals, stating in a report: "There is concern over the sufficiency of the annual fee. Unless a more suitable financial arrangement can be delivered it is unreasonable to expect council tax payers to subsidise the £400k saving County Council hopes to achieve".
Devon County Council has strongly denied any claims that enforcement officers will be under any sort of pressure to meet targets, stating that these allegations are 'completely false'.
A spokesman from the county council said: "Devon County Council's cabinet is being asked to consider recommendations to explore options for civil parking enforcement to be either delivered 'in house' by the county council or for a county-wide service led by a district council collaboration. The recommendations aim to ensure closer collaborative working for more efficient and consistent enforcement to reduce the current annual deficit."
The review of civil parking enforcement will be raised in a cabinet meeting at County Hall in Exeter tomorrow morning.