Council set to get tough on parking in towns
EXTRA traffic wardens are set to be recruited as part of a tough new parking regime.
Neath Port Talbot Council has produced a new parking strategy that was due to go before councillors today.
It includes contentious ideas such as scrapping free parking on Sundays, in the run-up to Christmas and in Pontardawe town centre.
Parking in Neath and Port Talbot's pedestrianised areas after 10.30am on Sundays, allowed at the moment, will also be banned.
The changes, if approved by councillors, will come in from next year to 2015.
And to enforce them the council is negotiating to change the shifts of its existing team of parking attendants and to sign up new recruits.
Head of transport and engineering David Griffiths said: "Taxi associations have lobbied us to say motorists are abusing taxi ranks.
"We also get complaints about people parking in residents-only places.
"Our problem is that we cannot deal with these problems if they happen later in the day because of staff terms and conditions.
"Because of their shift patterns they finish at a certain time and so we cannot help residents and the taxi association as much as we would want to."
Assuming Sunday charges are brought in, wardens will need to work that day too, meaning extra staff will need to be recruited to ensure rota cover for the rest of the week.
"There will be a requirement to go through a management of change process and to consult with the trade unions to seek their views," said Mr Griffiths.
He said the recruitment of more enforcement officers would not come at a cost as they were self-financing.
Mr Griffiths said the parking strategy would make a £59,000 contribution to the authority's forward financial plan, which addresses a £21 million budget gap over a five-year period.
But it would also help with the ongoing maintenance improvement bill for the council's car parks.
"We have had people ask us why don't we just put the council tax up instead of parking charges," he said.
"But not all council taxpayers drive. It's only fair that, if you are using a car park, you should contribute towards it."
Environment and highways scrutiny committee members were considering the strategy at a meeting in Neath today.