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Parking enforcement plans discussed by council

A parking fine issued by Torfaen Borough Council (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council)

RESIDENTS parking schemes and a camera car to catch drivers disobeying traffic orders could be introduced by a Gwent council. 

Torfaen Borough Council’s cleaner communities scrutiny committee has considered future plans for its enforcement service which mostly deals with parking offences but also has responsibility for littering and dog fouling. 

It is anticipated councils in Wales will be given powers to fine drivers who illegally park on pavements, with the Welsh Government having promised a ban on pavement parking. 

Committee members however raised concerns that residents permits could create two-tier parking in local neighbourhoods and one warned a pavement parking ban “could be the new 20 mile per hour” in reference to the controversial speed limit change. 

Independent councillor for St Dials, Cwmbran, Elizabeth Haynes said said permits could mean people couldn’t afford to park near their home. 

She said: “I’m a little bit cautious about permit parking. I’m concerned the impact is those who can least afford it being out voted by a group of people who can afford it. As an authority we have some very, very deep deprivation and I wouldn’t want those who can least afford it being pushed out of parking closer to home by the richer residents of the street. I’m really uncomfortable with that.” 

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Lynda Clarkson, Labour councillor for Abersychan, warned a ban on pavement parking could be difficult to implement. She said: “Pavement parking is the only way emergency vehicles can get in some streets.” 

Pontnewydd Labour member Stuart Ashley said: “That whole issue of pavement parking could be another 20mph zone problem.” 

The committee was told despite being touted as a national ban the Welsh Government has emphasised the policy will grant local authorities powers to deal with the issue if they wish to. 

Residents parking schemes – which require people to purchase a permit to park near their homes but cannot guarantee an available space – were previously considered in 2021 when councillors said any decision should wait until the Welsh Government had implemented the pavement parking ban. 

A report to the committee said “stakeholders” have again approached the council requesting its introduction. 

Nick Horler, independent member for Blaenavon, said he agreed it should be introduced in certain areas: “People are asking for this service or product we need to engage with those people. It wouldn’t be a policy for the whole borough but this could benefit those people asking for it.” 

A camera car, similar to one used in Newport, could patrol schools to ensure drivers aren’t parking in restricted areas such as on zig zag markings. At present the council’s four enforcement officers have to try and cover all schools and respond to reports from teachers. 

Gavin Newman, the team leader for highways, traffic and enforcement, said “most” local authorities now have a camera car for and he said they could be “a really good deterrent around schools and keeping bus stops clear of parking.” 

A business case is being prepared which its anticipated will be ready later this year but he said from his experience a car and equipment can cost between £30,000 and £50,000. 

Highways chief Mark Thomas, said he wanted to be clear no decision would be made without the approval of councillors and also said the council wants to work with communities to avoid issues such as illegal parking at schools. 

The enforcement team currently works between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Friday, but officers have worked over the weekend, and the council is discussing with its human resource department how it could alter contracts, including for two members of staff it has recently taken on.