A COUNCIL has come under fire after revealing it set its parking wardens ticket targets of thousands of pounds.
In its 2017/18 budget findings pack, Havant Borough Council’s head of neighbourhood support said the authority’s enforcement officers had been given income targets of £25,000 over the past year.
The public document – available on the council’s website – cites the source of the information to be a meeting with the head, Natalie Meagher, on January 5, 2018.
In a page 64 section relating to 2018/19 budget proposals to cabinet – and the consideration of replacing enforcement officers with cameras – the report says: ‘There were also legal issues with the option of replacing officers (who were set targets of £25,000 income to cover their costs) with cameras.’
The discovery has angered a member of the Conservative cabinet’s opposition – who has dubbed the targets ‘morally wrong’, claiming they ‘disproportionately target the poor’.
Ukip councillor John Perry, who represents the Hayling East ward, said: ‘It is wholly unacceptable for the council to adopt a policy that incentivises huge penalties for minor transgressions – this is morally wrong.
‘However, the Conservatives have long adopted this policy of substantial penalties for minor infringements, which have a disproportionate financial effect on the less wealthy in Havant and particularly in Leigh Park and my Hayling Island ward.
‘Traffic wardens should be encouraged to ensure the free flow of traffic and use their discretion for minor transgressions.
‘But this Tory policy will encourage wardens to issue tickets for the most minor of errors.
‘I will be speaking about this in my budget speech at full council on February. 21
‘This Tory policy is unacceptable and
just plain wrong.’
In spite of the contents of the report, the council has denied setting targets for its wardens.
Addressing the controversy, a council spokesperson said: ‘We set no targets, financial or otherwise, for our civil enforcement officers.
‘The main objective of the team is to ensure that traffic flow is maintained and parked vehicles are not causing any obstructions. Parking contraventions may lead to a Penalty Charge Notice being issued but our officers will just as often keep traffic flowing with a conversation with the driver before any enforcement action is taken.’
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government added: ‘The Government has taken a series of measures since 2010 to tackle over-zealous parking enforcement, including introducing new grace periods and making clear that parking revenues cannot be used as a stealth tax.’
The council report also suggests increasing borough parking enforcement hours.