Changes to the way parking restrictions are enforced in Rothesay, and throughout Argyll and Bute, take effect in just over a week.
Argyll and Bute Council will take over the responsibility for enforcing parking restrictions from the police on Monday, May 12.
And though the new regime is known as ‘decriminalised parking enforcement’, that doesn’t mean you’ll escape scot-free if you decide to park on a double yellow line or in other restricted areas.
Here’s a run-down, courtesy of Argyll and Bute Council, of how the new system will work.
What does decriminalised parking mean?
Decriminalised parking is the process where the council has taken over the responsibility for the enforcement of parking restrictions from the police. As such, parking offences are decriminalised.
If parking is decriminalised, can I park anywhere I like?
No. With the council now having the power to enforce parking restrictions this means that you are much more likely to receive a penalty if you contravene the regulations.
What are the benefits of the change?
The council says that local enforcement will keep Argyll and Bute moving, and that by assuming the responsibility for parking enforcement, the council will be able to ensure effective traffic management. It says effective traffic management has a number of benefits, including supporting the local economy by ensuring parking turnover – helping town centres remain vibrant, busy places.
Local enforcement will also safeguard access for Blue Badge holders, for deliveries, for loading and for emergency vehicles as well as ensuring road safety by managing inconsiderate and irresponsible parking.
Why is there a need for it?
In June 2011 Strathclyde Police stopped providing the traffic warden service as an efficiency saving. In the interim police officers were responsible for parking enforcement, but only alongside their other duties - with less enforcement leading to more and more people flouting the regulations.
The loss of traffic wardens and the subsequent lack of enforcement has led to people flouting the parking regulations.
How is decriminalised parking enforcement carried out?
The council will be employing four new amenity wardens to work alongside its two current parking attendants (who are being retrained as amenity wardens) to deliver parking enforcement across the council area.
Four additional wardens are being recruited and should be in place by May 12. The exact placement of the wardens has still to be finalised but patrols will be flexible and irregular.
The council’s nine environmental wardens - two of whom are located in the Bute and Cowal area - will also have the ability to enforce parking restrictions.
They will patrol all areas of Argyll and Bute where parking restrictions are in force. These include, but are not limited to, areas with yellow lines, pay and display bays, loading and unloading areas, disabled bays, limited waiting areas and off-street parking areas.
Their role is matched to issues we know matter to our communities. As well as ensuring effective traffic management the wardens will also address issues of dog fouling and littering.
What happens when a vehicle is found to be breaking parking regulations?
The warden will issue that vehicle with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), recording the date, time, location and nature of the offence and taking a photograph as evidence.
How do I avoid getting a penalty charge notice (PCN)?
If you park legally you have nothing to worry about. Be on the lookout for lines, signs and notices where you park.
Areas where parking restrictions are in force include, but are not limited to, areas with yellow lines, pay and display bays, loading and unloading areas, disabled bays, limited waiting areas and off-street parking areas.
If you are unclear on what signs and lines mean, the Highway Code will help explain them.
How much does a PCN cost?
In line with national guidelines, the PCN is set at £60, to be paid within 28 days. If paid within 14 days, the charge is reduced to £30. If unpaid, the charge increases to £90 to be paid within a further 28 days.
How do I pay my PCN?
The back of the PCN will have information on what to do. Penalty charges can be paid through the ‘pay it’ function on the council website, over the phone to our customer service centre, in person at any of the authority’s customer service points or via Paypoint at a local shop.
What happens if I don’t pay my PCN?
Unpaid PCNs could result in the council instructing sheriff officers to pursue recovery of the debt, which may incur additional costs. If you receive a PCN, to avoid the debt increasing, it is best to pay early.
If I get a PCN will I get penalty points on my licence?
No. Penalty points are only received for offences dealt with by the police under criminal law.
What happens with the money from PCNs?
Any funds accrued from PCNs will be used to pay for the costs associated with parking enforcement, any surplus will be used for the upkeep of parking facilities throughout the council area.
Do the wardens have targets to meet?
No. There are no targets for the number of PCNs a warden must issue.
What role will the police have?
The police will still enforce motoring regulations against moving vehicles and matters of obstruction or dangerous parking.
What if I dispute the PCN?
The back of the PCN has information on what to do to either pay the PCN or appeal against it.
What do I do if I have a complaint?
Complaints should be made in writing to: Roads and Amenity Services, Argyll and Bute Council, 1A Manse Brae, Lochgilphead PA31 8RD.