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Date set for tougher parking crackdowns to begin in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 07:33 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:24 31 October 2019

Parking enforcement powers will transfer from police to councils in Suffolk in 2020. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Parking enforcement powers will transfer from police to councils in Suffolk in 2020. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Motorists can expect a crackdown on illegal parking from early next year when more local authority employed traffic wardens take to the streets in a bid to end the lack of enforcement which one council leader believes has made Suffolk like the "wild west".

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has been vocal about his frustrations in delays to the changeover caused by central government. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPolice and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has been vocal about his frustrations in delays to the changeover caused by central government. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The transfer of civil parking enforcement powers in Suffolk from police to councils is due to be rubber-stamped in January following lengthy delays, and rolled out in the early months of 2020.

Currently, Ipswich is the only authority which enforces parking itself, but stretched police resources in Suffolk has meant that officers have not been able to dedicate time to it elsewhere in the county where they still retain those powers.

The changes mean that councils can employ wardens to crackdown on problem parking, with income collected from parking fines able to be retained by the councils rather than being sent to central government, which police must do.

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: "I am absolutely delighted to see progress being made at last. There has been quite a delay in getting this sorted, so it is great to finally have a date for implementation.

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council highways cabinet member, said it was important for communities to control parking. Picture: SCCAndrew Reid, Suffolk County Council highways cabinet member, said it was important for communities to control parking. Picture: SCC

"The council-run parking teams will, without doubt, provide more effective parking enforcement than the police because it will be their main focus - we have seen this in Ipswich where parking enforcement was de-criminalised some years ago.

"Moving the responsibility for parking to local authorities will free up police time for them to deal with more urgent issues, which makes perfect sense and that is why I committed £190k from the Constabulary's reserves to help establish the scheme."

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The changeover had been earmarked to start in April this year, but delays from central government because of Brexit work meant it was postponed because there was no availability in the parliamentary timetable.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, described the situation as the David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, described the situation as the "wild west" for some areas of the county. Picture: IBC

Andrew Reid, cabinet member for highways at Suffolk County Council said: "It is essential in enabling our communities to have closer management of their local parking challenges.

"A lot of residents come to us with concerns that people parking in their towns and villages are becoming more inconsiderate, and something needs to be done about it - we agree, and as a result are committed to seeing these parking issues managed locally to ensure fair and safe parking for all."

It is hoped the income brought from parking fines will help protect frontline council services from having to suffer cutbacks, although stretched council budgets mean there are fears a more draconian approach could be employed.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils have struck a deal with Ipswich and West Suffolk councils to carry out parking enforcement on their behalf, but Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher raised fears over reputational damage from motorists in a Babergh or Mid Suffolk road being issued a ticket from an Ipswich-uniformed parking warden.

Labour council leader David Ellesmere said: "There is effectively the wild west in other areas of Suffolk.

"It's probably safe to say even when police had traffic wardens it was never a particular priority for them, but given the cuts to police since 2010 there is virtually nothing going on in the way of enforcement in the rest of Suffolk and that is causing huge problems. That is the real impetus behind this.

"People who get parking tickets are not going to be that keen on it but in terms of the wider public and getting rid of the disruption that comes with it probably will be popular."

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