Parking team helping support local traders

Parking enforcement officer Dan

Posted on: 4 August 2020

Devon’s parking enforcement officers are playing their part in helping keep people safe and supporting the economic recovery of the county.

More shops are re-opening across the county and Devon County Council is reminding people to park responsibly as town and city centres start to get busier again.

The authority’s parking team has had plenty to deal with since lockdown restrictions started to ease – with more than 70 Penalty Charge Notices handed out in Woolacombe in one afternoon in May, as tourists flocked to the county.

Parking enforcement officers John and Dan, who are both based in North Devon, were among those who dealt with the illegal parking in Woolacombe.

Photo of parking enforcement officer John John said: “I’ve lived and worked in the area all my life, and you get busy summer days, but I’ve never seen anything like Woolacombe on that day. I couldn’t understand the logic – people had travelled a fair distance to get there but when they couldn’t park they just left their car anywhere. It didn’t make much sense.

“Some people had parked half on the pavement and half on the road but it just wasn’t safe – it’s a clearway, one of the main routes into Woolacombe, and there would have been no way an emergency vehicle could have got through. Hopefully it demonstrated the value of enforcement.”

As high streets and coastal resorts start to return to some sort of normality, patrols will be ensuring that local roads are kept clear and that communities are not blighted by illegal parking.

Photo of a parking enforcement officerDan said: “The majority of shop owners appreciate us. I’ve had a few instances recently where people have stopped me and said ‘it’s nice to see you’ and it seems as though a lot of people have taken a step back and aren’t rushing like they were before lockdown.

“We’re just like everyone else – we’re part of the local community. We’ve got friends and family and we’re just doing our job. If we’re not there, people will stay as long as they want and there wouldn’t be space for everyone to park and go to the shops.”

John added: “It’s generally been quiet in the town centres during lockdown, but it’s returning to how it was. Most people want us in the area doing the job – otherwise it would be bedlam.

“We’re keeping loading bays clear for deliveries and keeping it all flowing so that health workers can park, so that bin lorries can get through and so customers can visit the shops; and the businesses see the benefit of that.

“Some people misunderstand our job. We’re not here to stop people parking; we only penalise a vehicle when it’s parked where it’s not allowed. If everybody parks where they’re supposed to, everybody can go about their business.”

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We’ve seen our enforcement gradually scaled up since late May as more and more traffic returned to our roads over the last few months. Many of our towns and communities had requested enforcement as more people started to travel as lockdown eased, and our parking enforcement team has played a key role in ensuring that on-street parking is not abused. They’re keeping traffic flowing to support the local economy.

“It can be a difficult job at times so I would encourage everyone to think about where they park in order to help our communities and local businesses. That way it will support the recovery of our local economy and will also help our officers.”

Anyone using on-street pay and display spaces is asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines and is encouraged to pay for parking ‘hands free’ using the pay-by-phone system, which has switched to the RingGo service from this week (Monday 3 August).

For people paying by cash at a parking meter, please ensure you use hand sanitiser before and after using the meter.

Parking enforcement officers are instructed to follow social distancing rules and good hand hygiene. They are being deployed in vehicles in order to minimise social contact, but they are patrolling on foot in areas where there is on-street parking.

For more information go to Devon County Council’s webpages.

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