To consider the report of the Head of
Consideration was given to report of the Head of Community Services.
Team Manager Built Environment presented the report which provided an update on Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) since its introduction in 2019.
The Officer spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. He said the CPE service was suspended for 4 months from 20th March to 20th July, 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, and this had impacted against the forecasted number of penalty charge notices issued this year (estimated at 3,500 per year); with a potential reduction over the four-month period of approximately 1165 PCN’s. However, an 88% PCN collection rate was higher than the financial modelling estimate. To offset the income lost as a result of the suspension of the service, £27k has been received from the Covid-19 Welsh Government Hardship Fund, and the latest budget monitoring was forecasting a £4k budget surplus for this financial year. This would be monitored and reviewed going forward.
A Member asked whether the number of Enforcement Officers and the hours worked was sufficient to undertake the number of patrols required.
In response the Officer confirmed that Enforcement Officers were visiting key schools and town centres once or twice a week. He referred to the issues raised at the Members’ Briefing held in November, e.g. town centre market days and confirmed that these have been taken on board and visits would be undertaken.
In response the Member said there were problems on most days, particularly people parking on pavements by ATM’s, and he felt that patrols should be undertaken 3 or 4 times a week in town centres.
The Officer said town centres were a priority, however, additional patrols would impact on resources.
Another Member expressed concern regarding the low number of PCN’s issued in Nantyglo and Blaina compared to the problems being experienced, and asked how many visits were being undertaken in those towns. She understood the difficulty in catching offenders, particularly with people posting on social media when the Enforcement Officers were in the area.
A Member agreed with his colleague’s comments, and said the figures for Nantyglo and Blaina should be split per town. He also referred to the review of traffic orders being undertaken, and said whilst the removal of yellow lines would provide more parking, it could also cause problems for bus routes etc., and asked whether this was being monitored by the Enforcement Officers.
In response the Officer said it was difficult to police, particularly with the use of social media, but confirmed that visits were being undertaken in Nantyglo and Blaina, albeit not as much as the larger town centres. He was aware of the problems at High Street, Blaina and confirmed that more regular patrols could be undertaken. In relation to the traffic order review, this work was currently ongoing. The Officer also undertook to provide the Member with a breakdown of the PCNs issued for Nantyglo and Blaina separately.
In response to a question raised, the Officer explained that the larger town centres were visited a minimum of once per week, and the smaller towns a minimum of once a fortnight. However, the Enforcement Officers would also respond to any issues or complaints received if possible.
A Member referred to an initiative undertaken by Monmouthshire CC to offer a second residential parking permit for a one-off yearly charge, and whether this could be considered for Blaenau Gwent.
The Officer explained that the rationale for one parking permit per household was because many of the streets surrounding our town centres were terraced houses, and increasing this could be problematic. However, he undertook to look into the matter.
Another Member asked whether the Enforcement Officers undertook checks to ensure that ‘blue badges’ were being used by the eligible person.
The Officer explained that the Enforcement Officers did not have the authority to undertake checks, however, if they were aware of an issue they would pass the information on to the relevant Department.
A discussion ensued when a Member referred to the low number of PCNs issued outside schools, and another Member said a zero tolerance should be adopted.
In response the Officer confirmed that a zero tolerance approach was now in place. He said the number of PCNs was low considering the number of visits undertaken, but they were only able to issue PCNs in contravention of a traffic order. He also pointed out that patrols were not undertaken of all schools, only those deemed a particular problem as agreed with Members and colleagues within Education. The majority of schools within the Borough did not have any traffic orders in place, and as a result the Enforcement Officers were powerless to act.
A Member commended the work undertaken by the Senior Engineer Road Safety on the review of Traffic Regulation Orders and the ongoing consultation. However, he asked why some schemes had been completed prior to the Borough’s town centres being considered.
The Officer explained that the two schemes which had been completed were commenced prior to CPE coming into force. He confirmed that following the initial review, all defective signage had now been replaced, however, ‘yellow lines’ was an ongoing maintenance issue as part of the annual highway inspections undertaken.
The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted the update on progress relating to Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) since its introduction in 2019 be noted (Option 1).