Sunday, 19 January 2020

Fines won’t stop parking on pavements, say police

Fines won’t stop parking on pavements, say police

DRIVERS who park on pavements in Henley are not deterred by fines, according to police.

Pc Barbara Taylor, a member of the town’s neighbourhood policing team, said she and her colleagues could only devote so much time to the problem.

She said: “We’ve been ticketing for years and it has never changed. I’ve ticketed people and the next day they’re out there again getting their coffee. Whether they can afford it I don’t know, but maybe there should be more education.”

She was speaking at a meeting of the town council’s town and community committee in response to a complaint by resident Sheila Hall, who said contractors working on the Laureate Gardens development in Mount View, next to Townlands Memorial Hospital, often parked on nearby pavements.

Mrs Hall said the workers parked on yellow lines, forcing pedestrians to step into the road to walk around their vehicles, and even on the pedestrian crossing in King’s Road.

Sometimes they double parked in York Road and Clarence Road, which prevented the town bus calling at Townlands so patients with limited mobility had to walk uphill to the hospital.

Mrs Hall said: “It’s an absolute nightmare and no one’s doing anything about it. If I ever get a parking ticket I’ll refuse to pay.

“Those workers are so rude — one even stopped me on the pavement when I was talking on my mobile because they thought I was a parking attendant.

“I’ve confronted them and some say they don’t understand English parking rules but I’m fed up and someone must be able to shift them.”

Councillor Donna Crook said: “I’ve often told them not to park there but they’re incredibly ignorant. Some have the nerve to complain that their wing mirrors have been knocked off when they’re parked illegally. They’re behaving incredibly dangerously.”

Pc Taylor said the eight-strong policing team, which covers 21 other parishes, had been reduced in size over time and had numerous priorities, including antisocial behaviour and drug dealing. Despite this, they issued 1,000 tickets last year, which was comparable to previous years.

Pc Taylor said: “Parking on pavements is only an offence if it totally blocks access. The wider problem is that we give people permission to build in the area but then can’t let them bring their vehicles in.

“We expressed concerns about Mount View so the contractors started parking on the grass on the estate but Soha stopped that and they went back to parking on the pavements.”

Some councillors argued that the council should have more say on policing priorities as it pays £17,200 a year towards the cost of a police community support officer specifically for Henley.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “People feel there’s no enforcement in this town and that drivers park where they want. Obstructing a pavement is an offence and so is driving on it, which they must have done to park there.

“You say you’re short of people but residents want to see action because this causes a lot of misery. It’s within your remit and should therefore be among your priorities. We fund a PCSO so we should be able to politely direct you to do this.” Councillor David Eggleton said: “We’re spending public money on a PCSO but we’ve got no say or a guarantee that they’re exclusively working for Henley when they’re covering a massive area.

“You wouldn’t employ someone on that amount if they were only working a day a week.”

But Cllr Crook said: “PCSOs are incredibly useful and we’ll have a massive problem if we don’t provide funding. They’re such a great way to know what’s going on in the area.”

Inspector Nick Cain, who is in charge of the police team, said: “You’ve got a lovely town, which is a credit to your community and we want to keep what we’ve got but Barbara and her team cannot do everything.

“This is a very affluent area and travelling criminals will target it. There are many initiatives which she can’t disclose but, for example, we have a station and with that comes the risk of predatory criminals who don’t want to be picked up on number plate recognition cameras.

“We have finite resources and while I can’t give away police tactics, Barbara is working very hard and is very much a credit to my organisation.”

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