A senior police chief has been out on the streets of Ely to see for himself the problem of illegal parking – and booked a couple of motorists whilst he was there.
Supt James Sutherland agreed last year to support East Cambridgeshire District Council in the recruitment of unpaid volunteers to act as de facto traffic wardens to put a stop to illegal parking.
And whilst he works through the operational issues surrounding the challenge, he decided on seeing for himself the issue.
A police spokesperson described Supt Sutherland’s foray into the parking issue as “ it is not every day that the East Cambs Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) gets some help with issuing parking tickets.
“Last week a member of the senior management team visited Ely and went out on foot patrol in the city centre. It wasn’t long before he was reaching for his ticket book!
“Superintendent Sutherland came across vehicles parked on double yellow lines on Forehill and in a disabled bay with no blue badge displayed on Newnham Street.”
The spokesperson added: “ This is just a reminder to those of you who take the risk, you may return to your vehicle to discover that you have been issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN).
“There are plenty of free car parks in Ely, please use them.”
Lib Dem Cllr Mark Inskip said: “Whilst appreciating the efforts of Superintendent Sutherland last week, it’s an expensive way of enforcing illegal parking. Almost every other council in the country employs civil parking enforcement officers.
“The average salary of a police superintendent is three to four times that of a civil parking enforcement officer.
“If we had civil parking enforcement in East Cambs we could have regular enforcement on Forehill and free up senior police officers for critical policing duties.”
Last year Supt Sutherland told councillors that although it may be legal to recruit volunteers as unpaid ‘traffic wardens’, finding the time to train them is a major obstacle.
Supt James Sutherland spoke of the difficulties and challenges when he provided an update to the council on a scheme put forward more than a year ago so tackle illegal parking in Ely and East Cambridgeshire.
The district council is moving towards being the last local authority in the country to decline the option of civil parking enforcement.
This is when, as is now happening in Fenland, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, parking enforcement ceases to be a policing issue and becomes controlled by local councils.
In Ely the issue has been exacerbated by the district council’s refusal to countenance paid parking (often regarded as a precursor to civil parking enforcement) although Fenland, for instance, is moving in that direction with continuation of free parking.
East Cambridgeshire believes, as its leader Anna Bailey said, it should not need civil parking enforcement to bring about changes.
“I am as heartily sick of this anti-social, illegal, selfish behaviour as Peter and many other local residents, and am working hard to get a long-term solution to the issue in place,” she said.
“I do not want to use the sledgehammer of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) to crack a nut, so we are working with Cambridgeshire Constabulary on a solution that has not yet been implemented anywhere else in the country to tackle this issue once and for all.
“We are aware of the hotspots around the district, and we want to create a solution which is effective, cost effective and sustainable”.
Supt Sutherland offered little prospect of volunteers being around anytime soon to resolve parking enforcement, but he did explain to councillors that police now believed it was legally possible to use volunteers.
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