Stornoway is likely to be left without traffic warden provision from this week as an agreement to continue the service for 18 months on a temporary basis has fallen through.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar had agreed to support provision along with Police Scotland for the next 18 months but at the last minute they have been informed that Police Scotland are pulling out.
A statement from the council said: “CNES is raising the matter of traffic warden provision with the Chief Constable following a decision by Police Scotland not to support the temporary arrangement for funding as previously agreed.”
It continues: “Police Scotland are not now willing to support the temporary, eighteen month, arrangement which had been reached with the Comhairle and other partners to enable provision of Traffic Warden services in Stornoway to continue, until further discussions could take place between COSLA and Police Scotland on Traffic Warden provision in areas where “decriminalisation” is not financially or practically feasible.”
‘Decriminalisation’ is the process by which certain road traffic offences (typically but not exclusively relating to parking) are removed from being criminal offences; they are instead subject to civil penalties and enforcement action by the Local Authority.
The council are now writing to the Chief Constable and are also asking local and regional politicians for support to ensure the continuation of the temporary arranagements until the work to be undertaken by COSLA can be completed.
Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This represents a change of position by Police Scotland, and contradicts ACC Mawson’s letter of 13 December 2013 to the Local Authority, in which he noted the undertaking given by the Chief Constable to myself during a meeting we had in Stirling on 27 November 2013 on this issue”.
“At this meeting I advised the Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, that there was not the same opportunities for Local Authorities throughout the Highlands & Islands to in effect self fund the Traffic Wardens through the funding sourced from parking fines. To be fair to the Chief Constable he understood this position and argument and after discussion we agreed the joint funding between Police Scotland and the Local Authorities for an 18 month period”.
“For partners to have put time and effort into pulling together this proposal and trying to make it work for the good of the Western Isles and to be now told that Police Scotland are pulling out of this commitment is frankly a slap in the face for them all. I have written to the Chief Constable to ask for clarity around this decision”.
“To give a commitment and then pull out of it without a full and frank discussion and good reason is not acceptable”