Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 18:23 UK

Wardens 'to issue fewer tickets'

A traffic warden in central London
The council issued around 800,000 parking tickets in 2007

Traffic wardens in London will issue fewer tickets by giving drivers "fair warning", a council has said.

Westminster City Council aims to cut the number of tickets issued by 10% by warning drivers who park illegally.

"When we can, we will tell them before issuing the ticket so they have the opportunity not to receive one," a council spokeswoman said.

Wardens will also give directions to tourists and crime prevention advice in a bid to become more approachable.

'Chance to move'

The council issued around 800,000 parking tickets in 2007, generating 41m.

It aims to reduce the number issued by 10% over the next 12 months.

"It is not a blanket 'second chance' policy,'" the council spokeswoman said.

"But if we see someone sat in their car, for example, we will talk to them before issuing a ticket so they know what's going on and have a chance to move their vehicle."

The council has also extended the length of time heavy goods vehicles can take to load and unload in restricted areas from 20 to 40 minutes.

'Eyes and ears'

In their expanded crime prevention role, traffic wardens will alert passing motorists if they have left valuable items on view in their car, for example.

Members of the public are also encouraged to approach wardens with concerns about anti-social behaviour, which the warden would report to police.

Wardens will also report problems on the roads or pavements to the council.

This is positive but I would like to see it actually take place

Author Barrie Segal

The council's director of parking, Alastair Gilchrist, said: "We will expand their role to become the new 'eyes and ears' of the council."

Recently Westminster council also stopped clamping and removing vehicles from roads.

But Barrie Segal, author of The Parking Ticket Awards: Crazy Councils, Meter Madness and Traffic Warden Hell, was not convinced that fewer tickets would be issued.

He told the BBC News Channel: "This is positive but I would like to see it actually take place.

"We have been told for years that tickets aren't issued willy-nilly, they are actually issued to move traffic along and if parking attendants see a vehicle in the wrong place they are told to move. That doesn't actually happen."

Parking fines raise 220m a year
30 Jun 08 |  London

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