Midlothian set to spend £200k a year on lazy parkers

Thursday August 18th 2016

Derciminalised Parking Midlothian Council

Editor Phil Bowen

Back in February 2014 Police Scotland announced that it would no longer provide traffic wardens and that councils across Scotland would have to take on responsibility for parking enforcement.

This caught most Scottish councils by surprise, as they were not aware of it and so were not ready for the change. Interim measures were hastily put together and that is why Midlothian now has only one traffic warden, provided by Police Scotland but paid for by the council, costing £27,060 per year.

Across Midlothian parking continues to cause issues. A small but significant number of car drivers are simply ignoring double yellow lines and parking inconsiderately and dangerously. There are parents who persistently ignore requests to park away from school and instead choose to park right outside.

Midlothian Council is looking to apply to the Scottish Government to introduce a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement scheme by April 2017. If granted it would then mean that parking is no longer a criminal offence in Midlothian and so parking enforcement could be conducted by the council.

In a report discussed at this week’s council meeting, councillors heard that it will cost £100,000 to implement such a parking scheme. This is to cover the cost of upgrading signs and road markings to a suitable standard in order to robustly defend any parking ticket challenges.

The annual running cost of the scheme is estimated to be £200,000. This is to cover the cost of parking wardens, ticket machines and back office functions.

So far 13 of the 32 Scottish Councils have introduced such a scheme, though these tend to be in the large urban areas of Scotland, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

In order to make a parking scheme financially viable a council needs to rely on income from parking fines to finance the scheme. In cities where there are a large number of people and cars then it follows that a high number of parking tickets will be issued. However, it has yet to be proven that such a scheme can be financially viable in a non-urban area such as Midlothian.

The Midlothian Council report did not give any estimates of income from parking fines to offset the annual costs of the scheme.

A council spokesperson told Midlothian View

“The level of income will be determined by the number of tickets issued and the income from parking charges. However we are not in a position to quantify this at the moment.”

This seems strange as councillors are being asked to approve setting aside a budget of £200k per annum, at a time when the council budget is under strain, without knowing how much of this money the council will get back.

Even applying simple assumptions and calculations could provide ball-park estimates.

For example, if it is assumed that a parking ticket incurs a £30 fine then in order to recover the £200k annual cost then over 6,500 tickets would have to be issued annually which equates to 26 tickets every day from Monday to Friday, assuming parking is not enforced at the weekend.

It is not clear whether 26 tickets issued daily is realistic. Introduction of such a parking scheme may actually have the desired effect that drivers park in the correct places. However, this would then mean that the council miss out on the parking fine income and are left to foot the £200k bill.

So next time you see a car parked on a double yellow line, a car stopping near a school or someone parking dangerously then just remember that it is about to cost £200k to stop them doing it.

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