Clampdown on illegal parking in Caithness
HIGHLAND Council is ramping up enforcement of illegal parking in Caithness.
A council spokesperson confirmed this week that there are now full-time parking enforcement officers based in the county.
She added: "Parking enforcement in Wick and Thurso is business as usual. The number of parking fines issued are published retrospectively on our website."
At the same time, the council has been using social media to highlight examples of illegally parked vehicles in Wick and Thurso.
Statistics for Caithness specifically are not available on the website yet but she said "they will follow in due course". However, a table of figures on parking charge notices (PCNs) issued shows that in an area marked as "others" – which includes Caithness – no tickets were issued from January to March last year but 11 were given out in April.
Figures gradually increased to reach the highest recorded tally of PCNs issued which was 82 in September 2019. In 2018 the total number of PCNs given out for the area that includes Caithness was only 40 but last year this rose by over 1000 per cent to reach a total of 432.
In an effort to raise awareness of the issue, the council is using a Twitter account called Highland Parking in which it highlights examples of illegally parked vehicles in Wick and Thurso with a series of photographs and comments.
A tweet posted on February 14, with an image of illegally parked cars in Wick's Market Square, states: "Only vehicles allowed to park are Blue Badge holders 8 to 6 and taxis 6 to 8". It adds: "Read the signs, avoid the fines."
Another image shows a car parked on a single yellow line (SYL) at a corner of Sir John's Square in Thurso with the comment: "Remember folks we now have officers based full time in Caithness. Vehicle obstructing junction on SYL, Thurso. PCN issued."
Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Matthew Reiss, a former police officer, said it was regrettable that Police Scotland had not maintained traffic wardens in the area but he welcomed recent drives to enforce parking restrictions.
"It's just not on for someone to come along and park in a disabled bay or loading bay," he said. "I have every confidence in the recently appointed traffic enforcement officers.
"If folk obey the regulations then they won't get a ticket."
Councillor Reiss said he had overheard a conversation in Thurso in which two people were "aggrieved" at getting a parking ticket but admitted to themselves that "it was a fair cop".
Caithness civic leader Willie Mackay, a councillor for Wick and East Caithness, said: “I’m delighted to see full-time enforcement officers tackle the difficult concern of illegal parking in and around Caithness.
"These officers are very understanding. They are reasonable and know all the rules and regulations as to parking properly, parking legally and illegally, and all the restrictions that are in force.
"Motorists in Caithness are exceptional drivers and park properly and safely as best they can."
The civic leader said that the new enforcement officers are making a difference on the streets and felt confident they were "not willy-nilly issuing heavy fines" through PCNs.
He added: "There is a procedure to adhere to and this is thoroughly appreciated by the many constituents I encounter daily and from people across the county."