Parking in the county to be taken over by private contractor
SHIRE Hall bosses have sought to ease motorists' fears after announcing plans to award the contract for county-wide on-street parking enforcement to a private firm.
Gloucestershire County Council will invite bids for the contract in the coming weeks, but insists the shake-up is not a "profit-making exercise", insisting contractors will not be "incentivised" to issue tickets.
Enforcement is currently carried out on behalf of the local authority by the six district councils, all of which issue tickets and provide back office support.
The county council believes handing over the service to a contractor will lead to greater flexibility and consistency, as well as freeing up cash to be invested in parking, roads and local transport.
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Jim Daniels, parking manager at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "If someone is parking in Stroud one day and then going to Cirencester the next day, for example, they will see the same approach to parking, by the same people and in the same way.
"A single provider will improve the service for customers and save money for all councils."
However, concerns have been expressed that awarding the contract for on-street parking enforcement to a private firm could lead to job losses for Cheltenham Borough Council staff.
At the moment, CBC staff undertake enforcement in council-owned car parks as well as carrying out on-street enforcement on behalf of the county council.
If on-street provision is awarded to a private contractor, the workload of the existing staff could be reduced.
Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: "If there is less going on, we would probably have less people doing it. We don't know the consequences at this stage."
Parking services will still be overseen by the county council.
Councillor Chas Fellows, county council cabinet member for environment, said: "This is an opportunity to make parking enforcement more efficient – and not to turn a profit. It doesn't matter how many tickets the contractor issues, they will be paid the same amount."
A service provider is expected to be appointed by December of this year.
If everything goes to plan the new arrangements should begin in four districts in April 2013, with the exception of Gloucester and the Forest of Dean, which would adopt the new scheme on September 2014.