Mid Wales

New Powys parking wardens branded 'too strict'

Maengwyn Street, Machynlleth
Image caption Machynlleth's Maengwyn Street, one of the widest in mid Wales, on market day on Wednesday

New council traffic wardens in Powys have been branded "too strict" by some businesses and councillors.

There are claims in Machynlleth, Presteigne and Hay-on-Wye that parking officers are being overzealous, and having an effect on trade.

Powys Council denied the claims but said it was aware of them, adding that it had received no specific complaints.

Control of traffic wardens run by police switched to the council in line with most other areas in April.

The situation in Powys is in stark contrast to neighbouring Ceredigion, where business leaders complained about parking after traffic wardens were temporarily phased out while powers are transferred to the county council.

Before April, Powys had three traffic wardens and 10 council-run public car park monitors. Now there are nine civil enforcement officers (CEOs) monitoring on and off-street parking, the council said.

Powys council said between 1 April and 30 June its CEOs issued 1,522 parking tickets. A large number of those, 203, were issued in Hay-on-Wye, 76 were posted on cars in Machynlleth, while 33 were handed out in Presteigne.

Dyfed-Powys Police have been asked to provide comparison figures for 2010.

'Overzealous manner'

In Machynlleth, the former chairman of the town's chamber of trade, jewellery shop owner Kelvin Jenkins, said trade would suffer.

"I question the strict, draconian measures to control parking. It's bound to effect trade. It was pretty easy going before, unless someone was causing a major problem," Mr Jenkins said.

"The fear of parking tickets are bound to serve as a deterrent to visitors."

Machynlleth butcher Will Lloyd Williams said the new parking enforcement system needed to be more flexible.

"I went to a football (league) meeting in Llanidloes recently and I heard people saying: 'Don't go to shop in Machynlleth because you'll get a ticket,'" he said.

"If people are getting that message then it's going to have an effect on trade."

In Presteigne, there are claims elderly drivers are reluctant to park in the high street for fear of receiving a ticket.

Mayor John Kendall said: "Since the county council took over parking they have been more zealous in their approach to enforcement.

"There's a parking period of 20 minutes in the high street. People used to risk it and park for longer, but now this limit is being enforced. People, especially the elderly who cannot walk from the car park, are being deterred from parking in the high street.

"Twenty minutes simply isn't long enough for people to do their day-to-day shopping and we have asked the county council to extend the time limit."

In Hay-on-Wye, the Campaign for a Realistic Approach to Parking has been set up. The group has launched an online petition, and is calling for a residents' parking policy and free parking for residents.

A Powys council spokesman said: "We are aware of the claims that the civil parking enforcement officers are enforcing the existing parking regulations in an overzealous manner, but we have received no specific complaints on this issue.

"Our civil parking enforcement officers are fully trained and have the appropriate qualifications to enable them to carry out any enforcement action that is required and any enforcement action that is taken is appropriate and proportionate to the offence."

The spokesman said CEOs followed guidance from the Wales Penalty Processing Partnership.

Meanwhile, the council has announced a county-wide review of parking later this summer.

It will look at waiting restrictions in towns, and will take into account views and concerns raised by communities following the introduction of civil parking enforcement in April.

But the council said the review would not address claims that parking officers were too strict.

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