Police warned traffic wardens axe ‘would cost £2m’

Scrapping police traffic wardens will cost as much as �2m, it has been warned. Pic: Kate Chandler
Scrapping police traffic wardens will cost as much as �2m, it has been warned. Pic: Kate Chandler
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PRESSURE is mounting on police chiefs to rethink plans to scrap traffic wardens amid claims the move could cost money instead of saving it.

Police Scotland is set to withdraw all force-funded traffic wardens across the country as part of a £4.2 million cuts package.

But in areas such as Mid, East and West Lothian – where parking has not been decriminalised, allowing local authorities to pick up the responsibility – the move would mean police officers being left to enforce restrictions such as double yellow lines, zig-zag lines outside schools and deal with dangerous parking.

Now a senior traffic warden supervisor has calculated that could cost more than £2m.

In a submission to police chiefs, Barry Nicol said that as well as enforcing local parking schemes, traffic wardens across Scotland currently spent more than 280,000 hours a year on other duties.

He said: “These are duties that are going to have to be carried out by someone. If that means a police officer, that’s going to take them away from their core duties.

“And people will wonder why you end up paying someone £30,000 a year to do it when it could be done for £17,000.”

In his submission, he calculated that based on 2012 performance data, duties other than parking enforcement amounted to 280,181 hours or 154 full-time equivalent posts. He added: “This work activity will be backfilled by officers at an additional cost to Police Scotland of £2,072,724.”

Mr Nicol also claimed that if councils wanted to decriminalise parking enforcement, it could take up to three years to achieve because the legal process itself would be around 18 months and the council would need to go through its own decision-making procedures first.

East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray said: “Police proposals to pay off traffic wardens threaten traffic chaos and will make parking in towns like Tranent and North Berwick simply impossible. Quite apart from the frustration for motorists, local businesses will suffer if their customers just cannot find anywhere to park.

“This paper shows that the proposal would not even save money, and it would mean uniformed police officers spending their time doing traffic wardens’ work instead of fighting crime.

“As for the idea of the council taking over the traffic wardens, the paper tells us that would take three years – three years of chaos and police officers issuing parking tickets. Police Scotland need to rethink this and quickly.”

Police Scotland said it welcomed counter proposals as part of its traffic warden review.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com