A FULL review of car parking enforcement in Blaenau Gwent has been called for by the chairman of a council committee.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Community Services scrutiny committee on Monday, November 15, councillors brought up a number of car parking enforcement issues in the county while discussing an update report on the subject.
Just over two years ago, Blaenau Gwent were given the power to enforce Traffic Regulation Orders and were able to issue penalty charge notices (PCNs).
The council’s built environment team leader, Mark Hopkins told councillors that between November 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 – 1,029 PCN’s were issued and 95 per cent of the fines have been paid.
This is an improvement on the 88 per cent of the previous year,
According to the business model the council is following, 3,500 penalty notices need to be issued each year.
Mr Hopkins explained that, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, staff being redeployed to work in more critical areas during this period had seen an impact on the figures.
He added that that enforcement officers were “subject to abuse and threats” which has seen one leave the job recently.
A replacement had only just been found for another officer who had left during the summer.
Committee chairman, Cllr Mandy Moore said: “It seems a bit obvious to me that a full review needs to be done, taking covid aside, this hasn’t seen the best outcomes we would want.”
Mr Hopkins answered: “Unfortunately over the last two years due to covid restrictions, staff unavailability and sickness, we haven’t had a long run of having two CPO’s (Civil Enforcement Officers) fully working in Blaenau Gwent.”
Cllr Moore: “We also need to look whether we have enough CPOs as well, as part of that review.”
The financial cost of the scheme during 2020/21 ended up with a surplus of £11,466.
But this was partly due to the receipt of a Welsh Government Covid Grant of £27,000.
This was received to off-set car parking payments lost during the redeployment of enforcement officers during the first national lockdown between March 2020 and July 2020.
Between April and September this year, the cost was already showing a deficit of £8,042.
Blaenau Gwent is part of the South Wales Parking Group, which covers seven local authorities South East Wales.
Through a service level agreement, CPOsare actually employed by Caerphilly County Borough Council, while Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council carry out administration work and process notices.
From March 20 to July 20 2020, parking charges were suspended due to the first coronavirus lockdown.
At that time the two enforcement officers who patrol Blaenau Gwent were redeployed to work at the New Vale Household Waste and Recycling Centre.