Parking wardens set to make a return to West Lothian streets

Parking wardens are coming back to West Lothian – whether councillors like it or not.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 11:02 am
Stock photo by Lisa Ferguson.
Stock photo by Lisa Ferguson.

New Holyrood legislation will make it illegal to park on pavements, and the law requires councils to enforce that – not the police.

And this means that West Lothian will have to hire its own squad of enforcement staff, known in some parts as the “Blue Meanies”.

Roads and Transportation manager Graeme Malcolm cautioned members of the Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP): “This is the start of a journey. Additional staff will be needed.”

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Asked by Conservative councillor Alison Adamson: “How many- ballpark?” Mr Malcolm said it was too early to say, and was reluctant to put a number on it.

But he added: “If you recall when Police Scotland had traffic wardens in West Lothian there were around five. At that time there were lots of complaints about enforcement and about how they were never there when they were needed.

“By the time you think about coverage, how much enforcement you’ll require and building in holidays and sickness you may be looking at around a dozen.

"You need to have enough staff to enforce the legislation effectively.”

“We will have to come to committee with [proposals] how that enforcement is undertaken, and the costs of doing so,” added Mr Malcolm.

Around 18 local authorities already have parking enforcement – with the power to issue fixed penalty notices.

West Lothian however, despite being plagued with parking problems in town centres and on housing estates, has had none since the role of police traffic wardens ended in 2014.

Police will only enforce against parking where vehicles block access to emergency vehicles.

It is not yet known when the Holyrood pavement parking ban will come into force, but council’s have been asked to submit responses by the end of March.

In practice the new rules could make it an offence for parents parking as they drop children off at school. Exemption orders would be needed to allow some parts of pavements to be used.

Mr Malcolm said there will be consultations with schools and with PTAs on parking enforcement around schools.

Mr Malcolm said that there are areas in the county where it would not be necessary to introduce restrictions on pavement parking – for instance where it can and does take place without blocking the footway in such areas as the Loaning in Broxburn. But the majority of pavements would be covered by the legislation.

The new rules are designed to clear footpaths for parents with buggies, wheelchairs or mobility scooters . Mr Malcolm said that exemptions could be applied for, but the legislation was designed to minimise exemptions, given that the more there are the less effective the new rules would be.

Councillor Diane Calder asked how the rules would apply to estates managed by housing associations and registered social landlords who might not want to remove grass areas to provide additional parking areas.

Mr Malcolm said the new legislation was developed primarily for the public road network so would not apply. He added that there is an argument that if you provide more parking spaces by removing grassed areas the problems will disappear.

“I don’t follow that,” said Mr Malcolm.

“I think what happens is that the spaces are taken up by more vehicles. It then becomes more convenient to have another car and you just end up at the same point. Trying to build yourself out of that problem is not that easy and it is very very costly to do so.”

The crucial change is that it becomes the council’s responsibility to police the enforcement of parking.

“It’s a big subject matter. It’s a big one for the council to tackle moving forward but at least we have taken the initial steps to get that undertaken,” Mr Malcolm told the councillors.