MORAY is set to become Scotland’s first traffic warden-free zone later this week, sparking fears of a parking free-for-all in the area.
The last traffic warden employed in the area by Police Scotland is due to leave his post by the end of the month, leaving Moray with only police officers with the power to ticket drivers for on-street parking violations.
A total of three traffic warden were recently employed in Moray, handing out an average of 637 penalty notices a year. Two traffic wardens left the service in September under Police Scotland’s voluntary redundancy scheme and now the remaining warden is set to leave.
Many areas have already dispensed with police traffic wardens following reforms 16 years ago that decriminalised parking offences, allowing the local authority to take over the employment of traffic wardens. Police Scotland indicated earlier this month that police traffic wardens are to be phased out across the country.
But Moray Council has not yet applied to the Scottish Government to decriminalise parking enforcement in the area.
Councillors are being urged by officials at a meeting of the authority’s economic development and infrastructure services committee to take no action on the future of parking enforcement in the area until the outcome of the nationwide Police Scotland review of the traffic warden service is published and the financial costs made clear.
Councillor Douglas Ross, chairman of Moray Council’s police and fire and rescue committee, said he will be calling for immediate action by the council to fill the parking enforcement void at tomorrow’s meeting.
He said: “I really don’t think it is sensible to defer a decision until the outcome of the Police Scotland review is known when we already know the outcome of that review will mean that, come April next year, there will be no traffic warden service within Police Scotland. And, really, in Moray we are just going to be a few months ahead of the game.
“I think we have to get in there and start making changes now, rather than waiting until April and then another year and a half after that. There is a fear that drivers will park anywhere they like. And some local businesses have already raised concerns that, if you get irresponsible parking, people will be deterred from coming into our town centres.
“If this goes on and on people will just get used to parking anywhere and businesses then may suffer. Whatever happens, we will be left in a bit of a hiatus between the Police giving up those powers and the council deciding whether or not the council will take them on.”
Jim Grant, the head of development services at Moray Council, will recommend tomorrow that the local authority should defer making any decision on the option to decriminalise parking enforcement until such time as the outcome of the Police Scotland Review is known and the financial implications better understood”.
He said: “Police officers will retain the powers to deal with parking issues; however this will be balanced against their duties and will not be the primary function, as was the case with traffic wardens.”