04/06/2012

Traffic Wardens back in Ceredigion

Today is the day the traffic wardens (or rather Civil Enforcement Officers) return to the streets of Ceredigion.

From the day the police withdrew their service (giving, it should be said, fair warning after Ceredigion Council had declined their request for many years), it's been something of a social experiment. Maybe students will study it. Those people who have always resented traffic wardens and said people should be allowed to police themselves have had their way.

In that sense, it's been useful. Now we, and the many people outside Ceredigion who've been showing an amused interest (as can be seen in the Daily Telegraph cartoon above), know what life's like without parking control. And the conclusion is that it doesn't work very well at all. OK, the sky didn't fall in, but it hasn't been good. Disabled people have found their parking spaces blocked. Pavements in some streets have been made impassable by cars parking on them. Buses and lorries have occasionally been unable to pass down the narrower streets because of cars parked on the corners. The belief that people being able to park anywhere will help trade hasn't quite worked because what's been gained by people being able to nip into a shop whilst parked right outside has been lost by the short-term parking places being full of people parked in them all day.

Last week, warning notices were being placed on cars illegally parked. This week it's the real thing - a £50 or £70 fine, depending on the exact offence, with a 50% discount if paid within 14 days, like most other places. Sundays and Bank Holidays too. This is  administered by the Wales Penalty Processing Partnership, which also services eight other Welsh Councils. 

I'm no authoritarian, but some rules actually are helpful and I'm looking forward to the streets becoming more orderly places once again where everyone understands and accepts the rules to the benefit of all of us. 

There are certainly some places in the towns of Ceredigion where yellow lines could be reduced. However work on that has been suspended whilst council officers have had to spend their time jumping through the legal hoops required to take over parking control. Once that work is complete they can hopefully move on to other things and Ceredigion's interesting adventure into the unknown will be over.

If you live in Ceredigion and you see a traffic warden, be nice to them. They'll probably be the most popular wardens in the country for a while. 

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