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Decriminalising parking just the ticket for much of Cambridgeshire

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Three district councils across Cambridgeshire are working together to introduce civil parking enforcement which means on-street parking offences will be no longer be a criminal matter dealt with by police.

Fenland District Council, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire have formed a joint working group but not all areas expect to switch to civil parking enforcement at the same time.

Although Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire hope the change can be made by the summer of 2023, Fenland Council says it will more likely now be 2024 before they take over responsibility for on street parking.

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And that is because of a shortage of resources to help make the changes to street signs, says a report to Fenland Council on October 3.

Parking issues will no longer be police matter: Cottenham

“The county council has made good progress to date in moving the implementation of civil parking enforcement (CPE) in South Cambs forward,” says the report.

“FDC are not far behind in terms of overall project progress, however the current lack of professional resources within the industry is likely to result in the programmed implementation date having to be pushed back.”

Fenland Council says Huntingdonshire is approximately six months before them – but as we shall see the district council hopes to have it introduced by next summer.

Explaining their difficulties, Fenland officers says a full Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) survey for all 210 on-street parking and waiting restrictions within Fenland DC administrative area was conducted.

And 1228 anomalies were found, equating to 86% of all existing TROs in the Fenland area requiring corrective works.

The survey works were completed in four phases and this information has since been passed to Cambridgeshire County Councils Policy and Regulation Team for review.

Parking issues will no longer be police matter: Leverington

FDC says the county council has advised that the preparation of the design package works for the TRO corrections are to be prepared by an external service provider due to limited internal resources.

The first phase of design queries has been put out to Milestone Infrastructure and Atkins for pricing.

A draft application to the Department for Transport for a Civil/Special Enforcement Area Designation Order for the introduction of CPE in Fenland has been prepared by Cambridgeshire County Council in partnership with FDC.

“Whilst the timeline required to implement CPE in Fenland was envisaged to be approximately two years, several factors including county council and contractor resources could now inadvertently result in project slippage,” says FDC.

Parking issues will no longer be police matter: Whittlesey

“Currently it is estimated that the CPE designation order will be brought into effect early 2024.”

In Huntingdonshire, the district council says they would “like to see the scheme implemented by the summer of 2023.

“This position has achieved the formal support of Cambridgeshire County Council, but the achievable date of implementation is currently under review by Cambridgeshire County Council.”

What is civil parking enforcement?

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On-street parking offences within the district are currently a criminal offence, which means that enforcement is the responsibility of the police.

Parking issues will no longer be police matter: St Ives

Civil parking enforcement (CPE) is the outcome of the decriminalisation process which sees a new civil enforcement area (CEA) created under the Traffic Management Act 2004. View a map of all current CEAs in England.

The overall responsibility for signs and lines, on-street parking and related permits falls to the Highways Authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) in accordance with the Traffic Management Act 2004.

However, the day-to-day enforcement powers will be delegated to Huntingdonshire District Council (and other Cambridgeshire councils’ part of the scheme) under an agency agreement.

Steps towards civil parking enforcement

Recognising the benefits of civil parking enforcement to residents, a working group of Cambridgeshire County and Huntingdonshire District Council officers are engaged in preparation for the scheme, with the District Council covering the following costs:

  • funding to repair and install the current signs and lines on our roads
  • costs to support the ongoing operation of civil parking enforcement.

Works being undertaken include:

  • informal consultation with the police, ambulance, and fire
  • development of the agency agreement covering the district and county councils’ relationship
  • a review of the condition of signs and lines in place across the district.

The condition review will be used to estimate the cost of the repair of signs and lines. This cost will be presented alongside the agency agreement before signing “so that an informed decision can be made”.

Proposals to draw-up plans to improve the way illegal parking is tackled have been welcomed by district councillors,” says a council spokesperson.

Parking issues will no longer be police matter: St Ives

In South Cambridgeshire CPE, says the council, “would mean drivers parking illegally and inconsiderately, such as on double yellow lines or too close to a junction or a school, could be fined by civil enforcement officers.

“This arrangement is common in most other parts of the country and will be considered for South Cambridgeshire by Cabinet as the county council’s plans progress”.

The council says: “All civil parking enforcement schemes need to generate enough income to pay for themselves, which will inform how the scheme is developed for South Cambridgeshire.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader Neil Gough said: “We know residents have been concerned about illegal and inconsiderate parking for years.

“It causes problems for those shopping on our high streets, people with prams and those with disabilities and increases congestion.

“Tackling badly parked cars will also contribute to better air quality. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a key step forward in the process to move us away from relying on police for parking enforcement when, quite understandably, their priorities are elsewhere.

Based solely on recent photos, the evidence is that in Huntingdon the phrase ‘you can’t park there, sir’ means just that. But you can guess which of the cars are parked in Wisbech (top right, bottom middle)

“We now have a path to being able to introduce civil parking enforcement in South Cambridgeshire as an effective deterrent against inconsiderate parking.”

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