mark­ing charges rake in £2M,69M in six months

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

A PROJECT to de- crim­i­nalise park­ing in Lochaber has racked up £20,690 in its first six months.

In Oc­to­ber, Highland Coun­cil (HC) in­tro­duced a £ 550,000 pro­gramme which saw the ap­point­ment of park­ing en­forcers across Lochaber.

Af­ter an in­tro­duc­tory pe­riod to al­low driv­ers to fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the new terms and con­di­tions, £60 fines have been handed to any­one caught park­ing il­le­gally since Oc­to­ber 24.

Through­out the win­ter, the num­ber of charges fluc­tu­ated with 86 is­sued in Novem­ber and 45 dur­ing the shorter month of Fe­bru­ary. As the sea­son has picked up, how­ever, the fig­ure rose to 71 charges in March and a spike of 123 in April.

From the out­set, HC said money raised through the penalty charges will be spent on main­tain­ing the ser­vice and for traf­fic-re­lated projects.

The Lochaber Times asked HC if any projects had ben­e­fited yet, but it said it first has to break even on ser­vice de­liv­ery, cur­rently es­ti­mated at £400,000 a year.

HC con­firmed that, com­bined with In­ver­ness, 5,125 penalty charges have been is­sued since Oc­to­ber, cre­at­ing a to­tal value of £213,450.

Only seven charges have been for­mally ap­pealed but 446 have been can­celled.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, the most com­mon rea­sons for can­cel­la­tion have been when a valid per­mit has been held but not dis­played, where an er­ror in ticket is­sue has oc­curred due to ev­i­dence not been gath­ered or where the ve­hi­cle was, in fact, per­mit­ted to park.

While the in­crease in the num­ber of charges may be un­sur­pris­ing due to the sum­mer sea­son start­ing, the Lochaber Times asked the coun­cil to com­ment on the suc­cess of the project given that the fig­ures do not sug­gest a de­cline in park­ing of­fences in ei­ther Lochaber or In­ver­ness.

A spokesper­son said: ‘ The en­force­ment ser­vice has been very suc­cess­ful in man­ag­ing traf­fic sen­si­tive ar­eas where we have rolled out our ser­vice and en­sure that con­tra­ven­tions are ad­dressed. There will al­ways be a level of non- com­pli­ance with re­gard to park­ing and our of­fi­cers are avail­able to man­age that is­sue.’

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