'Jury still out' on new countywide parking enforcement scheme
PLANS to place on-street parking enforcement in the hands of a private company have met with concern from Cheltenham borough councillors.
The borough council is currently responsible for issuing tickets for cars parked both on-street and those parked off-street in car parks.
But as of April 1 this year on-street provision will be taken over by the county council and placed in the hands of Apcoa Parking (UK) Ltd.
The borough council has also been given the option to 'opt in' and ask the contractor to take on enforcement in its car parks too.
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But the authority's Liberal Democrat cabinet has stated its intention to keep enforcement in its car parks for itself.
It has questioned the merits of the new scheme, asking if the private contractor arrangement is in the town's "best interests".
Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), cabinet member for built environment, said the jury was out on the new plans.
He said: "From April 1, Gloucestershire County Council has decided to do the on-street parking agreement and they will have a single countywide enforcement contract.
"The council has obviously decided to do this because it is in their best interest. The jury is out on if it is in Cheltenham's best interests."
"I think it is extremely important that we continue to be responsible for our own car parks. It is a major income stream for this council."
Councillor John Rawson (LD, St Peters), cabinet member for finance, described the new arrangement as "an unknown quantity".
He said: "This is a significant public service and it is important that we continue to be accountable for the running of it. It is a pity that having achieved a joint enforcement structure for both on-street and off-street that the team is going to be broken up.
"It is a bit of an unknown quantity as to how enforcement will go forward in private hands."
A review of the county's new scheme will be undertaken by the borough council over the next 15 months.
They will assess whether or not it would be "advantageous" for Cheltenham to join the contract.
The borough council could then decide to join the contract up until March 2017.