A major change aimed at helping to prevent illegal parking could move a step closer in the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire this week.
At their respective meetings on 3 and 4 December, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils' cabinets will consider whether to move forward with proposals for Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) which could see responsibility for enforcement transfer from the police to a new team managed by Oxfordshire County Council.
Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils enforce parking in their own off-street car parks. However, enforcement for on-street parking in both districts is carried out by the police. This can put unnecessary extra pressure on police resources and leave parking problems unresolved as the police focus on more serious crimes.
Local councils can apply to the government to take on powers for Civil Parking Enforcement which allows them to fine motorists who park illegally or drive in bus lanes.
The two councils have been working alongside Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council to investigate the feasibility of implementing CPE arrangements within their three districts. This work has included commissioning a specialist parking consultant to investigate the potential benefits, challenges, and financial requirements of the scheme.
In order to implement CPE, cabinets at all three districts need to agree to move forward with the proposals. The councils would then collectively ask Oxfordshire County Council to submit a joint CPE application to the government for approval.
CPE is already in place in Oxford city centre and in West Oxfordshire. If the application is approved by the government, parking enforcement on-street in South and Vale would then be carried out by a new team managed by Oxfordshire County Council.
Cabinet members at Vale and South Oxfordshire will now decide whether to approve the proposals and therefore ask the county council to move forward and submit the application to the government.
They will also confirm the financial contribution that the councils will need to make in order to support the formal application to the Department for Transport to implement Civil Parking Enforcement in their respective districts.
If all three districts agree then CPE could be implemented by the end of 2021.
Cllr Neil Fawcett, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Place at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: "Illegal parking is extremely frustrating for residents and road users alike, particularly in our town centres. It adds to congestion and makes air quality worse. It can also hold up the emergency services. To help tackle this issue, we have been working with the County Council and Cherwell District Council to look at whether Civil Parking Enforcement would be suitable in our districts and how it could work. We will now decide whether to move forward with the scheme."
Cllr David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "Parking restrictions are important in helping to ensure congestion and road safety can managed effectively. Our current on-street enforcement is carried out by the police; however, this is not a great use of their resources, with enforcement generally taking place only if there is a danger or an obstruction. If taken forward, this more locally focussed approach could be a much more efficient and effective way of managing the issue and dealing with problem areas."