Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 08:57 UK

Parking abuse angers town traders

Parking generic
New parking laws start on 5 May

Traders in a Devon town say they are losing customers because drivers are blatantly flouting parking laws in what they call a "parking free for all".

All of Barnstaple's traffic wardens have moved onto other jobs ahead of enforcement being handed from the police to Devon County Council.

The new scheme, known as Civil Parking Enforcement, starts on 5 May.

Police admit there is a problem and say they have handed out hundreds of tickets in the area.

Rob Ford of Barnstaple Chamber of Commerce said: "Traders in the High Street cannot take their goods out of the shops or load them in because people are parked outside.

It is something we are aware of and something we are trying to keep on top of
Insp Toby Davies

"People are flouting the laws and parking where they want to.

"It is having an effect on trade, which is particularly bad when we are being hit by the internet."

Insp Toby Davies of Barnstaple Police said that officers had been focusing on areas where they got persistent complaints or where there was a road safety issue.

He said: "There is a problem, but it is something we are aware of and something we are trying to keep on top of."

"The visible presence of traffic wardens is a great deterrent.

"But we have issued several hundred tickets in the area over the last six months.

"Some people think they can get away with it but we are still enforcing it."

The introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement follows the Traffic Management Act 2004 which the government says is an attempt to make parking enforcement fairer in England.

The act introduces two levels of fines, one for serious offences like parking on a double yellow line, and a lower one for minor infringements.

Fines will be sent to motorists who manage to drive away before a ticket is stuck to their vehicle - closing an existing loophole in law.

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