Doubt cast on plans for traffic wardens

Traffic wardens could return to Motherwell and other North Lanarkshire town centres next year.
Traffic wardens could return to Motherwell and other North Lanarkshire town centres next year.

A warning was issued this week that plans to bring back traffic wardens to North Lanarkshire are unworkable.

There are fears that the scheme will be viable only if car parking charges are introduced at the same time.

North Lanarkshire Council offers free parking in its town centre car parks and a senior councillor has insisted this will not change. It’s proposed to have wardens issuing tickets for illegal parking in a scheme to be administered by Glasgow City Council.

The idea has gone out to public consultation and will come back to councillors next month for a decision. If the business case is approved it’s hoped wardens will be patrolling by summer next year.

Council environmental protection officers will have their duties extended to include issuing parking tickets. But there is said to be concern among staff they’ll be unable to reach the targets needed to make the scheme break even.

Police issued parking tickets until 2012 when they decided to concentrate on other priorities.

A Freedom of Information request showed income from parking tickets fell steadily each year between 2007 and 2012 as the number issued dropped from 5,771 to 2,143.

A report to councillors last month said 7,500 tickets would need to be issued annually, rising to 8,000 within five years, to “make the business case financially viable”.

A council source said: “How can such a scheme break even? Common sense tells you that you might get high numbers of offenders initially, but people will learn not to park in certain areas.”

The source also pointed to a South Lanarkshire Council report which admitted it was “impossible” to make parking enforcement self-financing.

Parking manager Donald Gibson said it was only by having car parking charges too that the council had managed to “keep the trading account on the credit side”.

However, North Lanarkshire depute leader Paul Kelly insisted there will be no charges.

He said: “Many residents have contacted me over recent years highlighting serious parking issues in town centres and local communities

“Unlike the majority of councils, we will not be introducing any parking charges as we do not feel this is a solution to the issue.

“Instead we will be focusing on parking management and possible use of parking wardens.”