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Volunteer traffic wardens, Lucy? You’re having a laugh says Labour

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Labour says it has “serious concerns” about a Conservative proposal to solve parking issues in Ely, Soham, Littleport and the rest of East Cambridgeshire with the introduction of volunteer wardens.

And they have criticized SE Cambs Conservative MP Lucy Frazer for intervening in support of the plans from Conservative controlled East Cambridgeshire District Council.

The MP has revealed a letter she sent to Cambridgeshire Police quizzing delays to a business case they promised the council to bring forward.

But Labour believes both the council and the MP are barking up the wrong tree in a bid to solve illegal parking.

“For many years, the problem of on-street parking has plagued the towns of East Cambs,” says a Labour Party spokesperson.

“Conservative-controlled East Cambs District Council has proposed the recruitment of volunteer traffic wardens to address the problem, an approach not used by 99% of other councils, and with good reason.

“South East Cambs MP Lucy Frazer has now written to Supt James Sutherland of Cambridgeshire Police, asking him to provide an update on the final business case to put this plan into action.

 

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."

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.”

“East Cambs Labour Party has raised serious concerns about these proposals and Ms Frazer’s letter seeking to put pressure on the police to draw up plans to put this proposal into effect.”

Labour says most of the country uses civil parking enforcement (CPE) to tackle the issues of on-street parking which says they say is a danger to pedestrians, wheelchair users, cyclists, and fellow motorists.

Council employed civil parking enforcement officers “are efficient and ensure that police time is not wasted following up on disputed cases.

“However, Conservative-controlled East Cambs District Council believes that they have a different solution, namely the recruitment of volunteer traffic wardens, to address the problem.

“Serious concerns have been raised across the community about this plan.”

Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) transfers the powers and responsibilities for on-street enforcement from the police to the highway authority. ELY

Steven O’Dell, East Cambs Labour’s community safety spokesperson said: “Lucy Frazer’s letter about parking enforcement in East Cambridgeshire is typical of her – and other Conservative Ministers’ – approach.

“We have problems with parking because of over a decade of underfunding in community policing by the Conservative Government.  Yet, Ms Frazer is keen to put all the responsibility on to the police.”

Labours Rebecca Denness has been working for some time to ensure that Ely’s streets are made safer

Labour’s Rebecca Denness has been working for some time to ensure that Ely’s streets are made safer

Labour councillor and highways lead on Ely City Council Rebecca Denness said: “This is part of a pattern.  She’s taken the same approach over bus services.

“Her Government has slashed funding, yet she is quick to pin the blame elsewhere and onto the Mayor of Cambridgeshire.

Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) transfers the powers and responsibilities for on-street enforcement from the police to the highway authority. ELY

Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) transfers the powers and responsibilities for on-street enforcement from the police to the highway authority. ELY

“When it comes to parking enforcement locally, I wouldn’t start from here. But we are where we are, action is needed and now.

“Civil parking enforcement works for 99% of the districts in the country.  As long as Anna Bailey, Conservative council leader stands against this, then our high streets will continue to be plagued by bad parking.”

Ms Frazer says she is yet to see even a business case for ‘road safety police volunteers’ that was touted by East Cambridgeshire District Council as the best way forward to deal with parking issues.

Ms Frazer has reminded Supt James Sutherland of Cambridgeshire Police of his pledge to bring forward a business case and has written to him asking “for further update on your progress”.

Recent parking issues highlighted by police at Forehill, Ely

Recent parking issues highlighted by police at Forehill, Ely

East Cambridgeshire is one of the last remaining districts in the country not to have adopted or have agreed to CPE which removes parking from being a police issue.

CPE means that on street parking offences – instead of being enforced by the police- are dealt with by the county council who then, mostly, pass it onto districts to administer.

South Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Huntingdonshire are going through the legislative processes, but Conservative controlled East Cambridgeshire District Council has refused.

Council leader Anna Bailey wants volunteers – with police support – to undertake the work, and her East Cambs Conservative group describes it as “a massive sledgehammer to crack a small nut, albeit a very annoying nut”.

Her group believes CPE “is incredibly bureaucratic (expensive) and it is no coincidence that councils that have taken on this enforcement role find themselves having to charge for car parking in their off street car parks in order to pay for it.

“Councils cannot increase Council Tax to pay for running CPE; CPE also comes with huge upfront costs – Fenland District Council are estimating around £400k”.

Keeping parking free remains a priority for the Conservative group (coincidentally Fenland insists parking there will remain free even when CPE comes in) and after a few false starts they produced the prospect of volunteers to issue fines.

Letter from MP Lucy Frazer to Supt Sutherland

Letter from MP Lucy Frazer to Supt Sutherland

Now Ms Frazer wants to know what is happening.

“During my visits to Soham and Ely High Street in recent months, shop owners raised a recurring issue with me: illegal on-street parking,” she says.

“Illegal on-street parking prevents the fair allocation of spaces to residents, businesses, and visitors, and can also create dangerous situations.

“It can make it difficult for both pedestrians and motorists to spot hazards and it can block access for emergency services.

“That’s why I am fully behind the proposal by Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, Anna Bailey – to give voluntary teams legal powers of parking enforcement – and have asked Cambridgeshire Constabulary for an update on their plans to adopt it.”

Her subsequent letter to Supt Sutherland admits “police resources are fine and there are other issues which require police attention”.

But Ms Frazer believes the Police and Crime Act of 2017 is emphatic in allowing for police to bestow legal powers on civilians “working in a voluntary capacity” to deal with parking.

And she wants Supt Sutherland to tell her “when we can expect recruitment to begin so I can share with this constituents who may be interested in volunteering”.

East Cambs Conservatives says that once CPE is in place, it is irreversible – “the council takes on the job of on street car parking enforcement forever”.

CAPTION: MP Lucy Frazer in July was out in Ely in July to meet with Superintendent Adam Gallop and Darryl Preston, police and crime commissioner, to discuss local issues.

MP Lucy Frazer in July was out in Ely in July to meet with Superintendent Adam Gallop and Darryl Preston, police and crime commissioner, to discuss local issues.

Conservatives say they are committed to free parking and fear this could be threatened if CPE is introduced.

“Bringing in CPE to deal with the relatively small numbers of people that park illegally is incompatible with free parking in our car parks,” they state.

East Cambs Council says that as well as capturing evidence of speeding and car parking abuse that will lead to fines, the role will also include an education remit – talking to motorists at the school gates for example.

They have promised that road safety police volunteers, unlike community Speedwatch volunteers, will have the necessary latest generation equipment that will lead to fines for speeding.

(You can watch Supt Sutherland address the full council meeting at East Cambs in October 2022 via this link here https://youtu.be/ckROctZlum0?t=1340 which outlines the proposal for the new role”).

Earlier this year, Supt Sutherland went out onto the streets of Ely to see for himself the problem of illegal parking – and booked a couple of motorists whilst he was there.

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.

“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, 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.”

 

 

CAPTION: MP Lucy Frazer in July was out in Ely in July to meet with Superintendent Adam Gallop and Darryl Preston, police and crime commissioner, to discuss local issues.

MP Lucy Frazer was in sunny Ely today to meet with Superintendent Adam Gallop, Police & Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston, and other officers

 

 

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