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PARKING enforcers are back in Fort William in a bid to deter ‘bad habits’ among drivers.
A new team has been out and about since Monday looking for anyone parking illegally.
For the moment only warnings have been issued but, after two weeks, charges of £60 will be levied.
The interim period is to allow motorists to familiarise themselves with the new rules and for the enforcers to get used to the job.
Shane Manning, Highland Council’s principal traffic officer, said: ‘On Tuesday there were three officers in Fort William on patrol. This is to create a degree of familiarity and to let the team work together. There is a team of 12 enforcers. One will be permanently based in Fort William and support will be given from Inverness.
‘A lot of bad habits have emerged since enforcers left and this is the only way to help businesses. If there are lorries circling loading bays hunting for spaces because someone has parked illegally, then it increases traffic, congestion and also pollution. The same goes for consumers too.’
Mr Manning added: ‘The change we saw in Inverness on Monday was dramatic – we saw a massive change in how people were parking even before we went on patrol and that is the main idea. Our goal is to keep traffic moving, not to issue tickets. We will issue warnings for just now and our target is by 17 October to start issuing fines. If a car has been abandoned and we cannot quickly and efficiently find a driver then that is when we are forced to issue a ticket.’
According to the council, money raised through the issue of penalty charge notices will only be spent on maintaining the service and any surplus can only be used for traffic-related projects.
Councillor Allan Henderson from the Highland Council’s community services committee said: ‘The new decriminalised parking enforcement powers now, with Highland Council should not be a problem for motorists who park according to signs and road markings. However, anyone who flouts the rules is warned that Parking Enforcement Officers will be enforcing and fines will be handed out. I urge everyone who drives, to think about where they go, to check out the road markings and parking signs in those areas and not to leave your vehicle unless it is parked accordingly.’