MORAY councillors today voted to write to the Scottish Government, calling for urgent action to prevent the area’s towns and villages facing a parking free for all in the run up to the Festive Season.
The last traffic warden, employed in the area by Police Scotland, is due to leave his post within the next few days, leaving Moray with only police officers with the power to ticket drivers for on street parking violations.
Moray Council has still to apply to the Scottish Goverment to decriminalise parking enforcement in the area, allowing the local authority to take over the employment of traffic wardens from the police force.
Council officials had recommended that the council should defer taking any decision about decriminalising the existing parking rules until the results of a nationwide police review of the traffic warden service is published next April.
But members of the authority’s economic development and infrastructure services committee today voted unanimously at a meeting in Elgin to write immediately to the Scottish Government, highlighting their concerns about Moray becoming the first traffic warden free zone n Scotland.
Councillor Douglas Ross, chairman of Moray Council’s police and fire and rescue committee, said it would be unwise to leave the service in limbo while waiting for the results of the Police Scotland review to be made known.
He said: “Police Scotland have made it quite clear that the warden service will be removed from Scotland. How that comes about has still to be determined. But I don’t believe we can just wait between now and April next year to find out what we are going to do and then start making movements towards a replacement.
“In the run up to a very busy time for traders in Moray, we will have no traffic warden service in the area and I think that is potentially very dangerous and potentially very irresponsible, given the importance we place on ensuring people can move freely around our towns and villages and shop in local businesses.”
Councillor Ross said: “I would like to see the Government moving forward far quicker with this. That is far too long to leave with Moray without traffic wardens. And I also believe we should look to see if there is any financial help they (the Government) can provide to us to take on the service from Police Scotland.
“We need to seek an early resolution of the issues and begin immediately to look at alternatives to traffic warden provision.”
Fiona Murdoch, the Independent Councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, told the committee: “I am very concerned about this. It is going to bring chaos to our streets at Christmas time. I don’t understand why Police Scotland are not required to continue to provide the service up until 1 April, even if it is only on short term contracts.
“We cannot just abandon the service and leave nothing in its place. I think it’s ridiculous.”
She declared: “I think it’s very irresponsible to just walk away and leave us in this position. I think we should be asking for traffic wardens to be reappointed until there is an alterative in place.”
And Councillor Murdoch warned: “We are not in the financial position at the moment where we can afford to take on another service that is going to cost us even more money.
“Is it going to mean that the traffic wardens suddenly become vicious in Elgin because they have to generate enough revenue to keep their jobs? We are being put in a very awkward and difficult position with very little notice.”
Councillor Allan Wright, the leader of the council; said he would also raise the issue with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to examine whether it was possible to make a joint approach on the issue.
Councillor Stewart Cree, the convener of the council and a former senior police officer, told the committee: “I am very disappointed with Police Scotland. The Scottish Government has the authority to make various enactments in a very quick way. We have to stress and highlight to the Government the intolerable position that we are being put in.
“They have within their power the solution and can perhaps find a temporary means or a permanent means of decriminalising parking in Moray and allow us to operate that system.”