The Sunday Telegraph

‘Cowboy’ parking wardens with L plates leading the war on motorists

Residents dismayed after they receive fines from council-employed moped riders without full licences

- By Ewan Somerville

A LABOUR council is allowing “cowboy” parking wardens with learner plates to issue fines to qualified drivers.

Civil enforcemen­t officers, being paid more than many nurses, are using mopeds without a full licence to drive around residentia­l streets in south-west London and catch out motorists.

Lambeth has been accused of exploiting a “loophole” to rush wardens onto the streets, collecting up to £35million a year in parking penalties with a fleet of learner mopeds. Through a contract with the parking firm APCOA, wardens are hired with CBT (compulsory basic training) certificat­es, a foundation pathway towards a full moped or motorbike licence. The day-long course does not require a full practical or theory test.

The wardens are covered by commercial insurance, but APCOA and the council have refused to confirm whether taxpayers are paying for this and renewal CBT certificat­es.

The Telegraph observed five wardens with red L plates in the borough, enforcing rules around residentia­l permits, visitors’ and parking tickets.

Richard Hughes, a pensioner, parked in Abbeville Village in Clapham to pick up food for his granddaugh­ter. The 75-year-old driver of 40 years, who had parked in a bay that was suspended for building works which were nowhere to be seen, said it was “a bit odd” to be issued a ticket by a learner.

“It seems that there are loopholes and weaknesses in the system that means that it’s advantageo­us to them to be learners rather than to have passed their test,” he said.

The Telegraph observed how a warden on a learner moped issued a penalty on the car around two minutes after it arrived, after trying to find the driver. The moped was also parked in a suspended bay with its L plate partially upturned, which could get six points on a licence under road laws.

Lambeth is thought to be one of several councils using learner mopeds. Job adverts show wardens can be paid £29,000 a year, a higher starting salary than nurses. Nearby Tory-run Bromley council is also advertisin­g for a “Civil Enforcemen­t Officer – Moped Rider”, paid £25,000 a year, which like Lambeth only requires a CBT certificat­e, carrying learner plates. Both authoritie­s have contracted APCOA to run their parking services. In Lambeth, this contract since 2016 is valued at an estimated £35 million, raking in around the same amount in parking fines a year.

Brian Gregory, of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “It’s just more of this cowboy, Wild West enforcemen­t mentality in local authoritie­s – their attitude now is ‘let’s screw motorists and commercial vehicle drivers for every penny we can get out of them’.”

An APCOA spokesman said: “These vehicles are driven in accordance with licence & DVLA regulation­s and all the APCOA fleet is insured under a commercial agreement.”

The company said mopeds were allowed to park safely in bays while issuing penalties and wardens “are not offered any incentive or reward based on the number of PCN’s they issue”, adding that they ensure “parking is fair and equitable for all” and provide a “reassuring uniformed presence”.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “We use foot patrols and electric scooters to efficientl­y achieve that, all in line with relevant legislatio­n. Penalty Charge Notices are only issued to people breaking the rules, and there are no targets attached to this work.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Penalty charges related to parking in London are set by the Mayor of London, so this is a matter for Lambeth Council and TfL (Transport for London), however we expect all enforcemen­t officers operating using a motor vehicle to comply with the law.”

 ?? ?? A parking warden with an L-plate delivers a ticket to a driver parked in a suspended bay in Clapham, South London
A parking warden with an L-plate delivers a ticket to a driver parked in a suspended bay in Clapham, South London

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