Streets are safer place for parking wardens as abuse levels drop

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IT is an unenviable job at the best of times.

But the city’s much-maligned band of parking attendants can at least walk the streets slightly easier after statistics showed a big drop in the number of verbal and physical attacks.

Last year, the Evening News told how one parking attendant was smashed in the face with a guitar by a motorist in Panmure Place in Tollcross, the most serious of 108 incidents.

By comparison, in 2011 there were 62 physical and verbal attacks recorded, including an incident where a motorist ran over an enforcer’s foot as he tried to put a notice on a windscreen near Leith Walk.

Parking firm NSL, which provides the attendants, today welcomed the reduction but insisted every incident was unacceptable.

In another case in the last 12 months, an object was thrown from a passing car and struck an attendant directly in the face as he patrolled Longstone Road in south-west Edinburgh in September. And one warden had his hand clipped by the wing mirror of a vehicle when the driver sped off along Hanover Street in June.

Nearly half of the incidents – 29 of 62 – were physical assaults, with the other half including intimidation, threatening behaviour and aggression.

Although there was no recognisable pattern in terms of location, a number of the attacks took place in the Tollcross area.

Others were recorded in some of the most affluent areas of the Capital, with several incidents in Merchiston and West Coates.

NSL could not say how many of the attacks in the last year led to police involvement or charges.

Nabil Hanafi, spokesman for NSL, said that thankfully no staff had been seriously injured.

He said: “Parking attendants perform an important and necessary public service. They keep the streets clear, traffic flowing and ensure that all drivers have fair access to parking spaces.

“Whilst we welcome the reduction in the number of incidents in Edinburgh this year, one assault is an assault too many. No-one should have to put up with being assaulted or abused for doing their job, and NSL will prosecute offenders wherever possible.”

Other incidents this year saw one warden spat on as he patrolled St Leonard’s Bank in Newington in October, while another was elbowed in the chest on Elm Row in March.

One parking attendant was even struck by a car door after the driver shouted abuse during an incident in Yeaman Place in Fountainbridge in August.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport convenor, said: “Assaulting or abusing our staff is completely unacceptable.

“People who park illegally are denying fair access to other drivers and, worse, can cause access problems for the emergency services.”