Parking chaos anger in penalty-free Ross-shire
The Ross-shire Journal can reveal that astonishing fact as drivers flouting parking rules the length and breadth of the county cause chaos for local residents.
Although 6507 tickets totalling £262,830 have been dished out – most in Inverness and Lochaber where the council’s 11 enforcement officers are based – the lack of enforcement elsewhere, coupled with “selfish and inconsiderate” drivers, is creating misery in several communities.
Highland Council took control of parking enforcement in October last year after it became decriminalised. It has 11 enforcement officers, at present focusing on Inverness and Fort William, Although these officers have undertaken “random visits” to Ullapool, Dingwall, Tain, Invergordon and Alness ahead of a planned roll-out across the region, no tickets have been issued in Ross-shire ahead of full deployment.
Police only have a duty to step in when parking is deemed “dangerous” and although yellow lines and signage have been refreshed in several parts of the county, the Journal has learned of chaotic conditions as rules are flouted.
Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Alister Mackinnon said he’d welcome enforcement of parking in Dingwall where a significant number of “inconsiderate and selfish” drivers are “giving no thought to the safety of pedestrians”. He is pushing for necessary traffic orders needed before enforcement can begin.
Ward councillor Angela MacLean said: “I have been contacted by a number of residents with issues of inconsiderate parking and abuse of the waiting times. Part of the issue is the lack of adequate parking in some areas and drivers taking a chance they won’t be caught as there is little enforcement outside Inverness at this time. It causes considerable distress for residents who can’t get their cars out of their drives due to cars blocking their entrance.
“My concern is as more people complain Highland Council could look to introduce residents parking permits at a cost of £55 to households to help alleviate the issue. As local members we have fought to keep free parking in our ward. Inverness may have the enforcement officers most of the time as they are the largest area however they also pay to park even outside resident's own homes. I would ask those drivers who do abuse the parking regulations to think of other road users and respect the bye laws.”
Castle Street, Ferry Road, Ross Place, near Dingwall Primary School, and outside Dingwall Leisure Centre have been amongst the problem areas.
In Inverness, 5618 parking tickets have been issued since last October.
Tain and Easter Ross councillor Fiona Robertson said: “Over the last few months we have, finally, had our yellow lines refreshed and introduced some new parking restrictions, and disabled parking bays on the High Street, in response to public demand. There is often a chaotic situation in Tain town centre, where traffic is at a stand-still due to double parking and people parking on junctions. The line refresh and new parking enforcement officers were meant to address this problem – one that is highlighted repeatedly by residents, visitors and community councils.
“I have discussed this with Highland Council officers a few times, pointing out the need for the enforcement officers to spend time in Tain to address this issue and to ensure that the time and expense on the yellow line refresh was not a complete waste of resources.”
She said: “The lack of fines in Wester Ross won’t be a surprise to those who fondly remember Angus MacRitchie - traffic warden for 12 years in Ullapool and famous for never issuing a single fine! I suspect this will not be the track record of the visiting enforcement officers whose salaries are supposed to be covered by the income from the fines they issue.”
Fellow ward councillor Ian Cockburn said: “The vast majority of the people support the parking restrictions as it has become a problem especially in the summer, and on the North Coast 500.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland’s Highlands and Islands division declined to comment when asked if police had been made aware of public concern since the change in enforcement regime. He said police have a role when parking is deemed “dangerous”.
A council spokeswoman said: “Enforcement is currently established and live in Inverness and Fort William. During the course of 2017
She confirmed that “no tickets issued in Ross-shire to date as full deployment has not started”.
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• Page 5 -Enforcement a “massive burden” for council.