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Decriminalisation of parking in Haverhill set to take effect in April

Motorists who flout the parking restrictions in Haverhill High Street – and elsewhere in the town and county – will not be getting away with it so easily after April 6.

That is because the long-awaited statutory notice required to allow the responsibility for roadside parking enforcement to be transferred from the Police to district councils – a process called Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) – has been laid before Parliament until January 30.

As a result, it is expected that from April 6 West Suffolk Council’s team of enforcement officers will have the power to penalise illegally parked motorists.

Civil parking enforcement is coming to Haverhill. Cllr John Burns with Cllr David Smith and Cllr Liz Smith in the High Street. Picture by Mark Westley.
Civil parking enforcement is coming to Haverhill. Cllr John Burns with Cllr David Smith and Cllr Liz Smith in the High Street. Picture by Mark Westley.

West Suffolk Council has welcomed the news, which it says will improve safety, reduce congestion and help the economy and the environment.

Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We, together with other councils and our MPs, have been lobbying Government for some time for these powers to help tackle illegal and bad parking issues to hopefully improve safety for our residents, help our local businesses and the economy as well as making sure emergency vehicles can get through.

“Many of our residents, communities and businesses in West Suffolk have also been asking for this to happen as they are tired of a small minority of motorists parking dangerously and clogging up our roads when most drivers abide by the rules.

Councillors John Burns, Dave Smith and Liz Smith in Haverhill High Street. Picture by Mark Westley.
Councillors John Burns, Dave Smith and Liz Smith in Haverhill High Street. Picture by Mark Westley.

“Councils and the police across Suffolk are working together on this initiative which means we can use local knowledge and information from residents to tackle areas in West Suffolk that are an issue while freeing up police time for other priorities.”

Cllr John Burns, Mayor of Haverhill and a long-time advocate of CPE, said: "I’m really pleased, after 12 months delay to implementation and for several years of fighting for it, that CPE is finally scheduled to come to Haverhill, and across Suffolk, in April.

“We all know the chaos caused, and damage done to pavements, in the High Street and elsewhere plus safety issues caused by drivers who have been flouting the law due to a lack of enforcement.

“This should significantly decrease when fixed penalty notices of £70 will be issued for illegal parking which I hope will convince drivers to change their habits and use the many car parks we have in the town centre.”

The penalty will be reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days. The fine currently issued by the police is £50 but no discount is offered.

West Suffolk Council confirmed it currently has eight full/time equivalent enforcement officers – the full compliment will rise to 18.

CPE has been running successfully in Ipswich since 2005; both Ipswich Borough Council and all the district councils have been working collaboratively with Police and Suffolk County Council in the planning stages to ensure a smooth implementation county-wide.

The change will bring many benefits, according to Suffolk County Council, including:

  • greater priority given to parking management locally, to help keep traffic moving;
  • district and borough councils empowered to make local decisions to suit local circumstances;
  • irresponsible and nuisance parking being enforced – supporting pedestrians, vulnerable road users, public transport services, drivers and emergency services to use the network more safely;
  • fines associated with parking will be retained in Suffolk to support the cost of enforcement. Any surplus can be spent on local transport and environmental improvements;
  • new jobs created county-wide to support parking management, patrols and enforcement.

Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said: “Civil parking enforcement powers will soon sit with our district and borough councils across Suffolk.

"It is essential in enabling our communities to have closer management of their local parking challenges.

“A lot of residents come to us with concerns that people parking in their towns and villages are becoming more inconsiderate, and something needs to be done about it – we agree, and as a result are committed to seeing these parking issues managed locally to ensure fair and safe parking for all.

“I very much welcome the cross-council collaborative working in order to deliver better parking for the residents and those visiting Suffolk.

"Our colleagues will continue working together to ensure CPE is successfully launched and I look forward to seeing the benefits locally that these changes will bring.”

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see progress being made at last. There has been quite a delay in getting this sorted, so it is great to finally have a date for implementation.

“The council-run parking teams will, without doubt, provide more effective parking enforcement than the police because it will be their main focus – we have seen this in Ipswich where parking enforcement was de-criminalised some years ago.

"Moving the responsibility for parking to local authorities will free up police time for them to deal with more urgent issues, which makes perfect sense and that is why I committed £190K from the Constabulary's reserves to help establish the scheme."