Nearly 20,000 parking fines since council took control of enforcement
Nearly 20,000 penalty charge notices have been issued over problem parking in East Suffolk since powers changed from police to councils, new data has revealed.
Civil parking enforcement powers changed in April last year so that local authorities could take control rather than police, as stretched constabulary resources meant the issue could not be prioritised.
Selfish motorists were told to expect tougher crackdowns on problem parking, and new figures for East Suffolk Council for the first year of its operation up to the end of March has found that nearly 20,000 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued.
More than 182,000 streets and off-street parking areas have been patrolled and 69,000 observations – considered necessary for many PCNs – conducted.
Only warning notices were issued for the first six weeks, with PCNs being handed out from May 25.
A report presented to East Suffolk Council said it had “improved or achieved the compliance of parking management regulations – previously there were many instances of illegal parking practices because there was little or no enforcement”.
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Norman Brooks, East Suffolk’s Conservative cabinet member for transport, said: “By carrying out daily patrols and being present and visible across the district, our parking officers are ensuring drivers adhere to existing parking regulations and are reducing the amount of obstructive and illegal parking taking place, which can impact our residents, visitors and businesses.
“Any monies generated through on-street parking fines is reinvested into our parking services, tackling parking issues, ensuring parking opportunities are readily available in our towns, reducing congestion and allowing other road users, including public transport and emergency services, to use the roads more safely.”
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The council’s parking officers use electric vehicles to help reduce carbon emissions during their working day.
The authority refused to say how much money the penalty charges had generated, but stressed it was re-invested in parking services as required by government legislation.
Caroline Topping, leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, said: “I would like to congratulate our civil parking enforcement officers because they have a very hard job.
“We had a period of several years where we weren’t policing our roads and they had a heck of a job to pull things back in line and stop people doing silly things they thought they could continue doing because they had been doing it for several years – even though it was illegal.”
Despite the progress on curbing problem parking, concerns have been raised over the abuse some parking officers have been receiving.
Council data indicated there had been 146 cases of verbal abuse and 10 physical assaults on parking officers investigated by police.
Verbal warnings and community resolution orders have been used by police on those abusing parking officers, with one case of assault by spitting resulting in a suspended jail sentence and a £100 fine.
Parking officers wear body cameras on their protective vests to record any abusive behaviour.