Monday, 22 October 2018

Council urged to take over enforcement of parking from police

ILLEGAL parking in South Oxfordshire’s towns and larger villages should be tackled by the district council taking over responsibility for issuing on-street fines, say parish councillors.

Goring Parish Council has written to the authority asking it to adopt civil enforcement powers, meaning it could deploy wardens with the right to issue tickets to motorists who park unlawfully.

It is supported by the parish councils in Sonning Common, Watlington and Benson.

Parking enforcement is currently the responsibility of the police but Goring councillors say officers don’t have enough time to issue fines, so many drivers get away with parking illegally.

Some of the worst offenders are commuters who park on double-yellow lines in residential streets such as Station Road, Manor Road and Croft Road to catch a train from Goring station.

They typically leave their cars all day, which creates bottlenecks and slows traffic as well as blocking residents’ driveways. Other drivers park on the double-yellow lines in High Street while shopping, which causes congestion and creates a safety hazard.

The letter was drawn up by Councillor David Brooker, who says he suggested the idea at a councils forum in November but was rebuffed.

He said: “The district council should take on these powers as it’s among only 20 or so out of about 300 councils in England that haven’t.

“Even the police have been pushing the idea of civil enforcement for about eight years. We appreciate that they do the best they can but they cover a huge area and parking can’t be at the top of their priorities.

“I raised it at the meeting but John Cotton, the district council leader, seemed to just laugh it off as ‘something that always comes up’. I asked the audience if anyone else had a problem and quite a few parishes said ‘yes’ so they’ve given us their support.

“People keep coming into our offices and complaining about restricted access to their houses. It’s also an issue in High Street and shopkeepers tell me they’ve seen people having stand-up rows.

“We know that Network Rail is going to extend the station car park to include another 40 spaces at some point, so coupled with better enforcement it could make a difference.

“The district council talks about the money it would require but it’s a question of whether they’re willing to raise the funding.”

Ian Hill, chairman of Watlington Parish Council, said: “The town centre is very congested with limited parking on the high street in terms of both quantity and duration of stay.

“Consequently, there are problems with illegal parking on Couching Street and Shirburn Street.

“We currently have a police community support officer who is very good at ticketing people or moving them on but we’ve had long periods with no enforcement and people then feel tempted to break the rules as they know there’s very little risk of being caught.

“We wouldn’t want any new regime to be overly officious but there needs to be some way of encouraging people to follow the rules.”

Sonning Common parish councillor Leigh Rawlins said the biggest problems occurred in the village centre around Wood Lane and Woodlands Road, where people parked on the double-yellow lines to shop at the Co-operative Food store.

He said: “People don’t always respect the rules and although the police community support officers have done their best, they’re obviously having to balance their time between different objectives .

“If we had a dedicated civil enforcement system in place, it might be easier to ensure those rules are upheld as long as it’s done judiciously.”

A district council spokesman said: “We don’t have plans to adopt civil enforcement powers for parking in Goring.

“The council welcomes petitions and requests from those who live and work in South Oxfordshire and their parish councils. These matters can then be discussed by the council.”

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