South Cambridgeshire has beaten Huntingdonshire and Fenland to the post to become the first of three Cambridgeshire local authorities to win Parliamentary approval for Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE). Whilst the earliest CPE is forecast for Huntingdonshire is October 2024, and for Fenland autumn 2025, the district council at South Cambridgeshire can unlock its potential much earlier following Government approval.
Following the decision by Government, the CPE scheme in South Cambridgeshire will officially come into effect on 19 December.
CPE has been rejected by East Cambridgeshire District Council after the Tory run council determined it would be taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut to deal with parking issues.
The council is pushing ahead with a more modest scheme that will include volunteer traffic wardens.
For South Cambridgeshire, however, it is all systems go.
Earlier this year an application was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) to enable Council Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) to issue Penalty Charge Notices for the majority of on-street offences such as parking on double or single yellow lines. Previously only the police could do this.
Benefits are expected to include increased compliance with parking restrictions which in turn would improve traffic flow, road safety and lead to a reduction in obstructive and dangerous parking. It will also support economic growth in the district.
To give people notice and a chance to find a more suitable parking place, information has now begun to be placed on vehicles that are parked in some areas where parking is in the greatest demand, such as commuting and shopping areas.
A Warning Notice will be issued to people who continue to park where there are restrictions throughout January – this looks like a parking ticket but there is no fine attached.
Penalty Charge Notices will be issued from 1 February which will mean a fine of between £50 and £70, depending on the severity of the offence.
Cllr Neil Shailer, vice-chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways & Transport Committee, said: “We ask that people take an extra second to think about where they park in the future as drivers are far more likely to receive a fine for parking incorrectly where there are restrictions, such as single or double yellow lines, now that this application has been approved.
“Always check the lines and signs or other notices in the area where you are planning to park. Check The Highway Code if you are not sure what a sign or line means.”
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “Parking restrictions are there for a reason; parking where it is not allowed can be dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. Please pay even closer attention to the lines and signs when you are parking locally from now on.
“You’ll be far more likely to be fined soon, if you park in places where you shouldn’t – like on double yellow lines. We are very grateful to the Greater Cambridge Partnership and County Council for working with us for the benefit of our communities.”
Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board, said: “We are really pleased that City Deal funding has been able to deliver Civil Parking Enforcement in South Cambridgeshire which should make a positive impact on Cambridgeshire County Council’s ability to enforce on-street parking offences.
“This will make it much more likely that people who park incorrectly will be sanctioned. This should help keep traffic moving freely and help support safer roads for everyone.”
Under CPE powers, CEOs cannot enforce all restrictions. Restrictions such as dangerous parking, obstruction of the footway and moving traffic offences will continue to be enforced by the Police.
The initial set-up costs to get CPE underway in South Cambridgeshire will be covered by the Greater Cambridge Partnership.
FENLAND DISTRICT COUNCIL
Deteriorating relations between rock solid Conservative controlled Fenland District Council and Lib Dem/Labour/Independent controlled Cambridgeshire County Council has slowed CPE across the district.
At a meeting earlier this year, the county council was variously described as falling short on legal obligations, “failing in almost every respect in regard to highways” and placing impossible financial burdens on Fenland Council to achieve civil parking enforcement (CPE).
Hostility flared at a Cabinet meeting of Fenland District Council revealed that the earliest date for the introduction of CPE in Fenland was now the autumn of 2025.
HUNTINGDONSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL
Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) gave approval to pursue CPE in February 2021 and agreed to fund on behalf of the county the needed remedial works (signs and lines) along with the ongoing costs of enforcement.
This position was supported by Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) at the Highways and Transport Committee on 7 September 2021.
!Recognising the wider benefits, CPE adoption is now being undertaken across Huntingdonshire, Fenland and South Cambridgeshire,” said a council spokesperson.
“Works, which include discussion with county around the details of the agreements, are continuing that will see the delivery of CPE in Huntingdonshire.”
The council says the “achievable date of implementation has been reviewed by CCC based on their available resource and the need for CCC to confirm funding of a specific area in the project’s delivery, which was formalised at the CCC Highways and Transport Committee on 6 December 2022”.
The revised date for commencement of CPE in Huntingdonshire is October 2024