Welsh traffic wardens under fire for leniency

'10 minutes' grace' for parking

It's not something most motorists would complain about, but parking attendants in Wales have come in for criticism for being too nice.

An official inspection found that wardens in Powys were too reluctant to issues parking fines, even in cases where offenders had clearly overstayed by as much as 15 minutes.

WalesOnline reports that the councillors from the local authority shadowed traffic wardens on three separate occasions, after the council reported a fall in income from penalty charge notices.

The investigation found that not only were wardens slow in reacting to drivers who had parked too long, but that they were also not properly enforcing restricted vehicle zones, leaving them open to abuse from commercial vehicles.

The situation was so bad that parking at evenings and weekends was described as a "free for all" by councillors. When tickets were issued, around 39 per cent were cancelled after being challenged by motorists.

The investigation, which took place in Welshpool and Llandrindod Wells, found that paying for parking was often an exception rather than the rule.

The group of councillors issued a number of recommendations, including shortening the period of grace given to drivers before a penalty ticket is issued.

"Whilst a little leeway is afforded when a motorist overruns the allotted time, it is thought that this, added to the length of time it takes to process the PCN, was too long," said the parking group.

"The process itself takes seven minutes and can be aborted at any time up until the very end of the procedure. On one occasion the motorist had already been given 15 minutes to return to their vehicle prior to commencement of issuing a PCN and the CEO still appeared to be reluctant to issue the ticket."

The council is keen to increase the number of tickets issued, as it is subsidising costs of providing and enforcing parking from its own coffers.

"To enable the service to be cost neutral, 7,000 tickets would have to be issued annually," said the parking group. "The latest information shows that only 5,000 are issued per annum.

"The purpose of the Traffic Management Act is to ensure traffic moves freely and should not be seen in terms of income generation. Targets are not set for PCNs issued."