Council could take on parking patrol service

Pay & Display in Stornoway. SGD26129.
Pay & Display in Stornoway. SGD26129.

Parking fines could be issued by staff employed by the council if the local authority takes over the traffic warden service at the start of next year.

However this move could prove extremely expensive for the council to run unless there are enough fines issued to pay a warden’s salary.

Police Scotland are proposing to discontinue the Traffic Warden provision in all council areas at the end of this year and the Comhairle are currently in discussions with Police Scotland on the future of parking enforcement in the islands.

The Traffic Warden service in Stornoway is funded and managed by the police and not only carries out parking enforcement but provides support services to the police such as traffic management at funerals and public events like the Lewis Carnival and agricultural shows.

They also enforce the Pay and Display system in Perceval Square on behalf of the council.

If the Traffic Warden service is discontinued by the police, it is possible that the council could take over.

However this would mean going through a legal process to decriminalise parking offences.

A report by the Malcolm Burr, Comhairle Chief Executive stated that the council would have to present a business case to Scottish Ministers in order to get permission to carry out parking enforcement and issue penalties.

“Many councils who have looked at establishing Decriminalised Parking in their area have found it difficult to make the process self financing,” he stated. “This includes some of the larger city councils who issue thousands of penalty Charge Notices every year. With each notice potentially raising only £30 it makes it difficult to see how the Comhairle can make the process self financing.”

This year so far, 181 Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) have been issued in Stornoway’s Pay and Display car park and 65 for other parking infringements.

In a letter from Chief Executive Malcolm Burr to Stephen House, Chief Constable of Police Scotland he said: “While I appreciate that it may well be possible, legally and operationally, to give Traffic Wardens employed by the Comhairle powers to continue the operation of these duties, the sums received through direct enforcement work, specifically the payment of fines, would fall well short of the costs of a full-time post and, unless a direct transfer of payment were to be contemplated, from Police Scotland to the Comhairle and other Local Authorities, it is clear that the current Traffic Warden provision would not be financially sustainable.”

He added: “Were the provision to cease, for financial reasons, I fear that the resources of Police Scotland would be in much greater demand to deal with parking management and enforcement issues, with a potential cost, at least in terms of operational efficiencies.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant met with Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last week and said he had indicated Police Scotland might be willing to fund 50 per cent of the budget for a period of 18 months if councils met the other half.