Council could soon make illegally parked motorists pay

Responsibility for enforcement of parking restrictions on Huntingdonshire’s streets could pass from the police to the council.

MAKING drivers park considerately on streets in Huntingdonshire’s towns and villages could reduce their Council Tax.

And those who park on pavements, verges and yellow lines, within five metres of junctions or in disabled bays, and those who overstay time restrictions, could soon be swelling council coffers with penalty charges as they find they can no longer get away with it.

De-criminalising on-street parking offences, which has been discussed for years in Cambridgeshire and has been in force in the city of Cambridge, would mean responsibility for enforcement passing from the police to councils. But which councils?

A paper to one of Huntingdonshire District Council’s scrutiny committees next week is likely to put forward a variety of options, with the most cost-effective being for Cambridgeshire County Council’s enforcement unit to look after on-street offences and for HDC’s existing teams to patrol council car parks.

But it is on-street enforcement that could reclaim the street from selfish motorists.

“Even the police will admit that they have more important things to do than enforce parking law,” said a council source.

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But, giving council officers responsibility for on-street enforcement would mean the problems – which amount in some places to a serious nuisance and to complaints from bus operators, residents and pedestrians, many of them vulnerable road-users – could be solved not only in the market towns but the villages, too.

Many villages demand little attention from the officers of the law.

Some do not see a police officer or support officer from one month’s end to the next. That could change within 18 months if the county and five district councils agree a scheme for what is known as ‘civil parking enforcement’.

In many areas, including town centres but particularly in villages, people park selfishly and dangerously with complete impunity in the sure knowledge that they will not be caught.

Civil enforcement of those restrictions would mean not only that penalty charges went to the councils but that drivers might start to park lawfully in council car parks.

“At a time like this, we could do with the extra income to keep Council Tax down,” said the HDC source.