Ely opts to keep police enforcing parking - even if they don't always oblige

The parking nightmare on Forehill, Ely, continues

The parking nightmare on Forehill, Ely, continues to dominant the thoughts of many of our readers. - Credit: Ian Kidd

Ely and East Cambridgeshire could soon be the only part of the country to resist civil parking enforcement. 

With Fenland and Huntingdonshire close to adopting such schemes, East Cambridgeshire will end up being one of just three councils to refuse it.  

Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) transfers the powers and responsibilities for on-street enforcement from the police to the highway authority. 

East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey said: “I have always been reluctant to go down the route of CPE which decriminalises the offence and puts enforcement in the hands of the district council.” 

It would mean traffic wardens back on our streets. 

“Whilst most local authorities have gone down this route, they have found it necessary to charge in their off street car parks to make it pay,” she said. 

“Over time the only option to continue to make it pay (as councils are not allowed to use Council Tax increases to fund it) is to increase car parking charges.  

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“Many authorities are now trying to row back from car parking charges, on which they have become financially dependent, as they have seen the damage it has done to town and city centres.  

“Once an area has adopted CPE it is irreversible.” 

She added: “Having CPE in an area also loses the ability to set the fine levels in the council owned car parks locally. 

“All car parking enforcement has to be controlled under the same regime and the same set of national rules and fine levels.  

“Fenland is pursuing CPE which they estimate comes with an upfrontcost of c.£400K. I 

“In summary, it would be a very expensive bureaucratic, irreversible sledgehammer to crack a nut, albeit a very annoying nut!” 

Cllr Bailey says she has been trying, and failing, for years to get the police to take action and that “a regular amount of enforcement would bring the situation back under control”.  

The council has offered to pay for a PCSO to enforce parking “but for various reasons this has not been able to be supported by the police”. 

She continues to pursue “alternative possibilities” and a report is due before the council this month.