Welwyn Hatfield Council to crack down on illegal parking

A parking enforcement officer in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Mia Jankowicz

A parking enforcement officer in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Mia Jankowicz - Credit: Mia Jankowicz

Drivers who park over ‘keep clear’ markings in Welwyn Hatfield could soon be hit with automatic fines after the council outlined plans to clamp down on illegal parking.

The borough council is planning to spend £220,000 on upgrading their system in an effort to make drop-off points outside schools safer and to encourage more motorists to comply with restrictions.

The council is proposing the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) across the borough, which would allow breaches to be identified across larger areas without the need for a warden to patrol on foot.

Currently, WHBC has seven Civil Enforcement Officers who issue the Penalty Charge Notices to vehicles which are in breach of parking restrictions for the area, and either work on-foot or in one of four vehicles.

It’s believed that the purchase of two vehicles with ANPR capabilities, and two static cameras would allow the council to more effectively monitor parking across the borough.

In a report prepared ahead of Thursday’s (December 16) Cabinet Parking and Planning Panel, council officers said ANPR enforcement would make the process more time efficient, and allow for a quicker response to requests from members of the public.

The new vehicles can be used while mobile to monitor a permit zone, or alternatively left stationary to monitor an area. 

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These will work alongside two static cameras which will rotate between schools to enforce restrictions. These cameras can be left unattended to enforce school ‘keep clear’ restrictions. 

The automated system wouldn’t be able to enforce all parking breaches, it would mean wardens would need to spend less time in a permit area to identify any issues.

The potential improvements come after a review into modernising the council’s parking operation recommended a feasibility report into the implementation of ANPR.

The council’s research into the cost of upgrading the system is expected to be around £220,000. This would include the outright purchase of two electric vehicles with ANPR equipment, installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and two static cameras.

The report adds: “The implementation of this scheme would generate ongoing efficiencies for the service, including increased enforcement coverage and the ability to accommodate new permit areas.”

The borough council’s Cabinet Parking and Planning Panel is expected to recommend the Cabinet request funding for the proposals in the 2022/23 financial year.

The council has already budgeted for a £25,000 contribution to its capital budget for improvements in enforcement activity, with the remaining £195,000 funded by borrowing.

There will also be £15,000 revenue costs for training, which will be included in the next iteration of the medium-term financial strategy and 2022/23 base budget.

Subject to cabinet approval, the tender process for the new purchases is expected to be completed by March 2022.

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