Fears over parking enforcement

FEARS have been raised that control for parking enforcement in the Whitby area could be taken away from the borough – with officials being kept in the dark.

The issue was highlighted to members of Scarborough Borough Council’s Service performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday (March 23).

John Riby, the council’s head of technical services, told the committee that North Yorkshire County Council was looking to extend the existing agreement and, in an extreme case, it could possibly be operated by a private company.

“The county council has been considering for some time of expanding civil enforcement throughout the county,” he said.

He added that three possible cases were being considered:

• responsibility for parking enforcement would be taken over by the county council

• expanding the areas currently administered by Scarborough and Harrogate

• creating a third area to cover the rest of the county.

Currently officers from Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) act on behalf of the county council for parking enforcement under an agreement which came into force in August 2007.

There is a similar arrangement in Harrogate and North Yorkshire Police is responsible for parking enforcement across the rest of the county.

Mr Riby said: “The county council has asked for a lot of details about our operations. I am very cautious about handing out such information without at this stage.”

He recommended that the committee request that county council officials should put together a presentation outlining their plans before any decision was made.

“The council needs to know what’s being offered. I think we need to ask senior county council officers to come to Scarborough to do a presentation to the car parking review group,” he said.

Coun Andrew Backhouse, SBC portfolio holder for highways and transport, said: “I am extremely disgusted that the county council has gone ahead with this. None of us were aware of this.”

He added that he had made an official request to county hall for an explanation but so far had not received any response. “We need to be aware what are their intentions and what are the business models,” he said.

Coun Joseph Plant said: “It should be open to everybody – it’s very important.”

Coun Ros Fox said SBC had tried to be “open and transparent” but it was difficult to know exactly what was planned.

She added: “If they are looking for privatisation how does that affect tourism? It just seems to me that they are doing it behind closed doors.”

And Coun Brian Watson said he was concerned that parking enforcement could end up in private hands.

He said: “The things you read about them. It might send people away from Scarborough.”

Mr Riby said: “To be fair to county council officers they work under a slightly different constitution that we do. We just need to clarify with the county council. We want our members to understand all the implications.”

Bruce Bedford, the council’s technical services manager, reminded councillors that the existing agreement for parking enforcement was a “statutory instrument” and could not easily be quashed.

He added that he had been approached by county council officers before Wednesday’s meeting and asked to provide detailed information but had declined the request.

It is understood that the requested information included details of current terms and conditions as well as staff salaries.

The committee voted not to provide any further information before any plans were clarified.