The parish council frequently receives complaints about unlawful and inconsiderate parking within the village. While we do seek to discourage such behaviour, we do not have any enforcement powers in such matters. Currently, the police or wardens accredited by the police are the only bodies which can issue Fixed Penalty Notices or initiate prosecutions for unlawful parking. We are all aware that police budgets across the country have been cut while the demands on them have changed and increased. Consequently, parking enforcement comes a long way down their list of priorities.
There are plans to decriminalise parking on yellow lines and make this a civil tort. The responsibility for this will then pass from the police to district or county councils employing staff to manage this. The precise details of these arrangements have yet to be finalised, but a target start date is April 2019. After this scheme comes into force the police will have no power to enforce the parking restrictions indicated by yellow lines. However, the police will continue to have responsibility for the enforcement of all other parking offences.
We have been in consultation with Suffolk Police at both county and local level and the advice we have been given is that where a parked vehicle appears to be in contravention of the law and there is an element of danger to road users the police will respond. The response will be determined by the availability of a police or support officer. So, where there is a perceived danger to road users, which includes pedestrians, the matter should be reported at the time and directly to the police.
We have to recognise that in the current financial climate police responses may not always be what we would like. Accordingly, we have been in discussion with Babergh Mid Suffolk District Council, Sudbury Town Council and Suffolk County Council to explore other ways of preventing inappropriate parking in Lavenham. We have also commissioned a study into ways in which the Parish Council can play a part in addressing the problem.
An immediate step that has been taken is to engage the Sudbury Town Wardens, who are authorised under the Community Safety Accreditation scheme to report unlawfully parked vehicles. In the first instance this will be in the form of an advisory notice that an offence appears to have been committed. The Vehicle Registration Mark will be recorded and reported to the police. If the vehicle is seen in similar circumstances on future occasions, then the police will address the issue with the vehicle owner and or driver.
We have agreed in principle with SCC Highways Department to install suitable street furniture such as bollards, planters, benches etc in key locations to physically prevent pavement parking. For this to be lawful we need a license from SCC and we are pursuing this with them.
We are fortunate to live in a relatively crime free environment but that doesn't mean that we should just accept the inconsiderate behaviour of some drivers. Whether you live or work in Lavenham, if you wish to comment on any of the issues mentioned above please contact us by post or email as follows;
For police matters: phone 101 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lavenham Parish Council: John O'Mahony on 249817 and email email@example.com