Parking Enforcement In Wisbech

Parking Enforcement In Wisbech

The purpose of this FAQ is to answer a common question I am asked which is: “Why doesn’t the Council do something about illegal parking in Wisbech?”  This question comes in many forms.  Sometimes as a sarcastic aside: “Oh, you can take me to court for not paying Council Tax but you can’t enforce illegal parking?”  Sometimes as a straight question: “When will the Town/District/County Council do something about all the bad parking in town?”

When told that none of those Councils have the power to do this, the response is usually: “Well they do it elsewhere.”

Yes.  They do.

This is because some parts of the country have decriminalised parking, and some have not.  Let me explain.

The Road Traffic Act 1991, responding to increasing problems with town congestion, demand for on-street parking, and pressures on Police resources, permitted local Councils to apply for legal powers to take over the enforcement of car parking from the Police.  This is called decriminalising parking enforcement.  There are ups and downs when you do this and some Councils have done so and some have not.

At the time of writing, most of Cambridgeshire has not.  So in this County the enforcement of parking lies solely with the Police.  Only the Police can give tickets and only the Police can sanction people who park illegally.  Councils have no power to do this on public land or public highways.  (Councils do have some power on private land, but that’s another issue.)

So, quite simply, the reason Councils don’t give parking tickets is that they have no power to do so here.  Only the Police have.

Normally the debate then leads to people saying the Police should bring back Traffic Wardens and “they would pay for themselves in the first week.”  Unfortunately, this is not true.  If it were true, then the Police would never have slowly stopped using traffic wardens in the first place.  While it may seem as though traffic wardens would pay for themselves, the evidence does not support this.  And anyway, the Police don’t employ them anymore.

The next comment is usually: “Well get on and decriminalise parking then, so we can get the Council to start issuing tickets.”

With this final aside you may have a point.  But its worth giving careful thought.  In almost every instance, the decriminalisation of parking comes hand-in-hand with paid parking in car parks, and on-street paid parking.  That’s the way Councils usually make the schemes pay.  So if we do decide to follow other bits of the country and decriminalise parking, we will also be following other bits of the country in moving to fees for parking in our car parks and in key areas on our roads.  This is likely to have a big effect on the area, and it is the main reason why decriminalisation of parking has been considered and rejected before.  If you think we should still do it, tell you local County Councillor that you support it so they understand the strength of feeling.  But bear in mind that once this has been put in place, its not easily removed.  Other areas that have done this now feature forums full of complaints and hate about the activities of the Council-hired enforcement staff.  Be informed, before you insist.  And if, once informed, you still think its for the best – let your County Councillor know!  They will be better able to represent you if they know where you stand on it.