Monday, 29 November 2021

Parking rules enforced by council instead of police

Parking rules enforced by council instead of police

A REVIEW of parking restrictions in Henley is to be carried out with the return of civil enforcement.

From Monday, Oxfordshire County Council will take over responsibility for enforcement from Thames Valley Police.

This means tickets and fines in towns and villages in South Oxfordshire will be issued by wardens and enforced by Conduent Public Sector, a contractor for the council.

Fines will vary from £50 to £70, with a 50 per cent discount if paid within 14 days.

The council has asked town and parish councils to review the parking restrictions on their streets, especially those where drivers have become used to ignoring them due to a lack of enforcement by the police.

Henley Town Council has formed a working group to carry out its review.

Tim Bearder, cabinet member for highways at the county council, said: “In some areas, residents are now raising concerns regarding outdated restrictions and impending enforcement of areas near their homes where they have become used to parking in contravention, for example, in two-hour bays or on single yellow lines. In some cases, a review of the restrictions might be beneficial and we are now asking parish and town councils to help identify where restriction changes may be required.

“We plan to take a pragmatic approach to enforcement of these areas and where there is an agreement to carry out a review of the restrictions, the parking team will give a commitment to suspend enforcement until an outcome is reached.”

Any change to parking restrictions that requires an amendment to a traffic regulation order will cost £3,250 in legal fees.

A new residents’ parking scheme covering several streets could cost more than £10,000, while introducing double yellow lines would come in under £1,000.

The Henley council working group will consist of Councillors David Eggleton, Ken Arlett, Michelle Thomas, Glen Lambert, Laurence Plant and Will Hamilton.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s town and community committee, Cllr Arlett said: “The majority of us have lived in this town for a long time and know it really well.

“We don’t need an officer from the county council to tell us what we need. We should take this on in the next couple of weeks and walk around town and make some notes and say to the county council, ‘This is what we have found’.”

Cllr Eggleton said it was important that the restrictions in Market Place didn’t harm traders taking deliveries.

He said: “The council could give permits for them to park and offload for five to 10 minutes.

“The only other way is to contact all the shops and the couriers that go around the town. If you are penalising them, you might drive people away from the market.

“From the council’s point of view, there would still be revenue because they would need to buy permits to park there.”

Cllr Thomas warned about the potential impact on the charity shops in Duke Street.

She said: “Members of the public giving donations should not be ticketed, they should be protected. I’m sure the charity shops would appreciate that.”

Councillor Donna Crook said there was a shortage of parking in Mount View and that it would benefit from additional spaces.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said that town and county councillor Stefan Gawrysiak should ensure the right process is followed. “Solving this needs an integrated and strategic approach,” he said. “The last time we had a parking strategy from the county council was in the last century.

“We have asked for it many times. If there are missed opportunities, we should look to get them changed.”

Police will continue to be responsible for dangerously parked vehicles and obstruction offences.

The county council says the move to civil enforcement should create safer roads and help traffic flow more freely as well as delivering a greater turnover of spaces, which will help shops and businesses recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

It says the aim is to make the scheme self-funding, with extra on- street pay and display spaces helping to pay for the enforcement costs.

Councillor Bearder said: “By taking control of managing parking offences, we can give local communities more input into parking enforcement in their areas.

“We are determined to make walking and cycling easier and safer and to improve bus services.

“One way to do this is to improve the flow of traffic by penalising drivers who clog up the roads through inconsiderate parking and who put pedestrians, cyclists and other road users in danger.”

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