‘No plans’ to decriminalise parking, despite pressure

26/3/13- Congestion and parked delivery vehicles in Battle High Street SUS-140514-111941001
26/3/13- Congestion and parked delivery vehicles in Battle High Street SUS-140514-111941001

ROTHER District Council says it currently has ‘no plans’ to decriminalise parking in the district - despite being urged to do so by the Department for Transport.

Just 17 local authorities across the UK still rely solely on the police to enforce on-street parking restrictions, with Rother and Wealden District Councils the only two in the South East yet to make the switch.

The Department for Transport recently wrote to East Sussex County Council, which is responsible for the county’s roads, encouraging local authorities to take control of parking enforcement away from the police.

But Rother, which would be responsible for enforcing parking restrictions in the event of decriminalisation, would need to voluntarily make the move towards decriminalisation.

And so far RDC has no plans to take over - despite increasing pressure from residents in Bexhill, Battle, Robertsbridge and Rye.

There have not been any dedicated traffic wardens in Rother for several years and the local police say they do not have the time and resources to devote to parking enforcement.

Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, of Rother Police, said: “With cuts in funds for us, it’s not a priority when compared with other threats, such as burglaries, violent crime, theft and antisocial behaviour. The allocation of resources for Neighbourhood Policing did not cover any additional demands around parking and there is a cost to police in parking enforcement, which we cannot recover.

“Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) allows for parking revenue to be reinvested back to deal with parking enforcement and is self sustaining.

“Decriminalisation will save significant time and effort in terms of police resources we have not got.

“It’s strange that myself and the District Commander for Wealden have to contend with parking issues, which no other policing areas in the whole South East has to deal with.”

The police will act if people are illegally parked on double yellow lines, in disabled bays or are causing a dangerous obstruction, but the need to respond is again based on risk and available resources.

Police will not deal with minor issues, such as exceeding waiting times, as this can take Police Community Support Officers off the street for long periods of time.

There have been occasions in Rother where a PCSO has been off the street for an hour to deal with just one parking ticket.

Due to CPE legislation across the UK, any tickets issued by the police that have been contested require a full court file - a significant drain of police resources.

Ch Insp Franklin said: “Police have had to fill the void of any other enforcement activity around parking and I know that Rother District Council and East Sussex Council are sympathetic to this and want to look at long term options jointly.

“The PCC Katy Bourne made it clear that she favours the adoption of CPE in Rother as we are out of line with the rest of the South East and the majority of the UK.”

But despite this, RDC says it currently has ‘no plans’ to decriminalise parking in the district.

Cllr Carl Maynard, Rother District Council leader, said: “The issue of introducing decriminalised parking is one that was discussed at length at the latest meeting of Bexhill Town Forum.

“It was made very clear at that meeting that if this was to be introduced in Bexhill, it would also have to be applied in Rye and Battle, because it’s a policy that would have to be introduced on a district-wide basis.

“However, we have no plans to introduce decriminalised parking in Rother at this time.”