End in sight for Newmarket's parking free-for-all as West Suffolk Council set to take over enforcement powers in April
Inconsiderate drivers who ignore parking restrictions in Newmarket will soon run the risk of being fined, ending the current free-for-all in the town.
In April the responsibility for handing out tickets to illegally parked motorists in the town will transfer from Suffolk Police to West Suffolk Council.
The district authority is one of the last in the country to be handed powers to give out on street fines –and has suffered delay after delay to it adopting the powers.
Newmarket’s MP Matt Hancock has hailed the introduction of civil parking enforcement as a sign the parliamentary logjam of Brexit has now been lifted.
“Now the council can regulate and issue fines, this will help keep cars off single yellow lines during enforcement hours and off double yellow lines at any time. The money will stay in West Suffolk,” he said.
“Many residents and visitors to our towns have experienced a parking free-for-all which often made it difficult to access shops and their houses due to illegally parked cars.”
West Suffolk Council is now gearing up to more than double the number of parking wardens it has in time for its introduction on April 6.
Its ticket officer workforce will expand from the eight it currently has patrolling its off-street car parks to 18. And drivers given a ticket will be expected to pay £70.
The fine will be reduced to £35 if it is paid within two weeks. The fine currently issued by police is £50, but no discount is offered.
Money collected will stay in the district, unlike current police fines which go to straight to central government.
Cllr James Lay, Newmarket’s deputy mayor, welcomed the introduction of on-street parking enforcement and said it had long been a problem that needed to be solved.
“The time has come when all the complaints about parking we have received as councillors can now have something done about it,” he said.
“I am sure there will be some grumbling to begin with but in the long term it will solve the problem.”
Suffolk Police have long wanted to hand over parking enforcement to local councils, and punishing bad parking had become a low priority for the force.
Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ to see progress, and it would free up police time for more urgent issues. “The council-run parking teams will, without doubt, provide more effective parking enforcement than the police because it will be their main focus,” he said.
More by this authorDan Barker