Scottish Borders Council has rejected calls to implement its own parking enforcement regime – despite evidence that motorists are regularly ignoring town centre restrictions.
Councillors voted 19-11 last week to ditch the proposal and opt instead for putting pressure on Police Scotland, which withdrew traffic wardens from the region in 2014, to enforce the regulations.
To assist the police in this endeavour, the council will conduct an investigation into the cost and practicality of introducing a disc-based parking system for use in restricted areas.
And depending on the outcome, that system will be piloted for three months from March 1 next year in Selkirk and Hawick.
Along with Galashiels and Kelso, these towns were highlighted as hotspots for illegal parking in a recent survey commissioned by the council for £35,000.
At Thursday’s meeting, SBC leader David Parker said a council-run decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) scheme, costing £220,000 to implement and £20,000 a year to run, was “unrealistic”.
“Enforcement of legal parking is clearly a police function and I contend that council taxpayers in the Borders should not be picking up the tab for the withdrawal of traffic wardens, particularly in these times of financial constraint,” said Councillor Parker.
“I would also argue that the police are taking illegal parking seriously, as evidenced by the 312 fixed-penalty tickets they have issued in the Borders since April 1.
“The survey results show there are compliance issues, but, in the main, people in our towns are complying with parking regulations.
“We should be doing what we can to assist the police and a disc system indicating how long vehicles have been parked may be an affordable and effective answer.”
Mr Parker was countering a motion from Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads, who chaired a small working group set up after the traffic wardens were withdrawn.
In June, that group concluded that a council-run DPE scheme was the best way forward.
Breaking ranks from the Parker-led ruling administration last week, Mr Edgar wanted the council to immediately embark on the legally-required public consultation on the introduction of DPE and to assess the feedback in February next year.
“From the survey returns it can be seen that all 12 towns surveyed have a problem with parking regulation compliance,” said Mr Edgar.
“Some towns have worse problems than others, but they all have them and they’re getting worse.
“The people of the Borders believe that the parking control in place at the moment is, at best, ineffective.
“We should be listening to those we are elected to serve and acting accordingly.
“The police are not able to provide a parking management service on a regular basis and, although illegal parking is still an offence, it is not a high priority for them.”
Despite receiving support from Hawick councillor David Paterson, executive member for environmental services, and the Conservative opposition group, the ruling SNP/Independent/Lib Dem administration held firm to defeat Mr Edgar’s motion by 19 votes to 11.