'Bemused and frustrated' - Parking fines replaced with thousands of paper notes on illegally parked cars
Drivers parking on yellow lines are getting away with paper notes asking them to park “considerately” rather than parking fines despite Edinburgh City Council losing millions from suspending pay and display parking charges.
Only three parking tickets have been issued since the beginning of lockdown, a huge reduction from more than 32,000 in April and May last year.
Labour councillor Scott Arthur said a parking attendant he spoke to was “bemused and frustrated” by the decision to issue the notes instead of fines while Tory transport spokesman Sue Webber said she made “no apologies” in calling for proper enforcement.
Green councillor Claire Miller also called for the “softly-softly” approach to be revisited by the council.
The council said joint guidance from COSLA and the British Parking Association recommended “help and advice” and encouraging people to move illegally parked cars rather than issuing parking fines.
Amid social media criticism of notes being placed on cars parked in disabled bays without a permit, walking charity Living Streets said enforcement was necessary for new active travel provision to work.
They posted on Twitter: “New space for walking and cycling will only work if there's proper enforcement. This is one of our 'asks' - not only for parking but for speeding and other traffic offences too.”
Cllr Scott Arthur added: “Parking restrictions such as double-yellow lines are in place to protect the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Indeed, some of the most recent restrictions in my ward were actually requested by the emergency services after they raised very real concerns.
“I don't understand why parking attendants have been furloughed when they could be out in the city keeping us safe. The parking attendant I spoke to yesterday was utterly bemused and frustrated.
“He was clear that many drivers just ignore the warning notes, and that the approach is losing the city valuable income at a time when every penny counts.”
Council papers show it has lost £1.3m in choosing to relax enforcement and could lose a further £0.6m if disruption caused by Covid-19 continues, and is projected to lose £9.8m from suspending on-street parking charges.
The decision to do so was to allow for easier on-street parking for key workers and residents given the increase of the number of vehicles needing a parking space due to the ‘Stay at Home’ guidance.
Tory transport spokesman, Cllr Susan Webber, called for a return of “proper enforcement” and questioned who took the decision to issue the notes instead of fines.
She said: “I was incredibly supportive of the removal of the parking restrictions in the resident parking bays and the pay and display areas. This was needed to support key workers and to provide the space needed for residents to park.
“The easing of restrictions did not however make it acceptable to park on sections of the road where restrictions remain in place, bus lanes, bus stops, single yellow or double yellow lines.
“We must enforce them and not leave these gentle reminders on windscreens. The restrictions are there for good reasons, especially the double yellow lines.
“Resources may be restricted but I make no apologies for calling on proper enforcement to be reinstated.”
Green transport spokesman, Cllr Claire Miller said “Over the ten weeks of the Coronavirus pandemic parking rules have been applied in a very light touch way, including the suspension of parking charges.
“There has been a cost to that, estimated currently at £13.5m, which is £13.5m less for public services. As traffic is on the rise again it’s time to look again at softly-softly tactics.
“While no-one likes getting a ticket, parking rules are there for everyone’s safety. People who drive or park responsibly need have no worries, but for the minority who flout the rules, I’d rather see the real thing than this halfway house.”
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “Our attendants have been monitoring the roads for obstructions and will continue issuing information and tickets to protect public safety where necessary.”
“We suspended on-street parking charges and the enforcement of resident parking areas in March to help essential workers and vulnerable residents to park easily and safely during this difficult period while getting of giving crucial support.
“In order to protect workers’ safety there have been a reduced number of parking attendants on our streets, and in line with guidance from the Scottish Government the remaining attendants have been focusing on dangerous and obstructive parking only, which of course has led to a reduction in the number of tickets given out.
“Thousands of information flyers have also been issued, asking the public to park. Irresponsible, selfish parking, obstructing others will continue to be dealt with but thankfully the vast majority of drivers have observed our advice, meaning that very few parking tickets have been required.”