A council has claimed a proposal to change the way parking enforcement works in Bury St Edmunds ‘would have a huge cost to the tax payer’.
But Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association (CAA), says Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) could work well in the town and that money was just a ‘convenient excuse’.
The scheme, which has operated in Ipswich since 2005, would see powers for enforcing parking contraventions – including parking on yellow lines and in parking bays – transferred from the police to the local authority.
A recent CAA survey revealed that 88 per cent of respondents thought illegal parking in the town was a problem, with more than half saying enforcement was not adequate and they would support a move to CPE.
Cllr David Nettleton, who is also keen to see it introduced in Bury, said: “At the moment, the permit parking schemes aren’t working very well.
“We’ve got a lot of illegal parking going on that’s not being enforced by the police and that’s because they don’t have the resources when dealing with other things as well.
“The borough council has the staff and experience and is able to fulfil that function.”
Mr Hinchley said: “We all know Bury’s going to expand by 30 per cent. It’s a case of grasping this now and getting a reasonable control on the situation before it gets worse from increased traffic.”
A spokesman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said a change over to CPE was not a decision it could make alone and was something that ‘could have significant implications for costs and resources’.
He said: “At a time of severe cuts in our central government funding, those costs would have to be recouped from somewhere.
“We would need to patrol all of the double yellow line area across the whole of our towns and villages – it is not something that we could take on for the Churchgate area alone.”
“It’s for towns that really need it and our argument would be that Bury’s a town that really needs it,” said Mr Hinchley.
A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “One of the benefits of this is that there is a larger dedicated team of enforcement officers to ensure that regular patrols are carried out in all areas of the town, but, most importantly, decisions regarding enforcement policy can be made at a local level.
“Regular consistent enforcement results in fewer vehicles parked causing a nuisance to other road users as the public understand that if they park where they shouldn’t there is a much greater risk of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “CPE has existed in Ipswich for many years and has broadly worked well. With respect to extending it more widely in Suffolk, this is a major undertaking and at the present time the council is still considering if and how this might occur in the future so there is no firm plan.”