A FORMER council leader claims it would cost Newport council more than £1million if it were to accept responsibility for parking enforcement in the city.

Cllr Matthew Evans said the authority would need to pay out a significant sum of money if it were to take on the responsibility.

Gwent Police has informed all councils in its patch that it intends to withdraw officers and staff from activities that involve enforcing parking restrictions as of April 1, 2018.

But according to Councillor Evans this would lead to a huge cost for the local authority.

“Decriminalising parking involves a massive amount of money,” said Cllr Evans.

“Essentially the council is taking control of parking enforcement.

“I went to a seminar with other councillors and it was estimated the project would cost the council £1.4 million.

“There’s a lot of signage and other things involved.”

Newport council is to discuss the issue at a scrutiny committee in November.

But the cabinet member for Streetscene, Cllr Roger Jeavons, said it would be “at least 18 months from approval” before the council could decriminalise on-street parking and take offenders through the civil process.

Cllr Evans, leader of the Conservative group on the council, also claimed if the council accepted responsibility it would have to introduce measures to make money to ensure the project is viable. But he warned the measures could hit small traders and businesses.

He said: “If the council paid out £1.4 million it would then need to make that money back.

“The council cannot afford to lose money.

“The only way to ensure this - similar to what has happened in Cardiff and Bristol - is to introduce parking meters and enforcement cameras. But the problem is that this would compromise free parking.

“We could end up with people wanting to shop elsewhere.”

He added: “There are some advantages to the scheme. I’ve not made my mind up yet whether or not to support it.

“We do need a solution to dangerous parking. But one way to do that is not to agree planning applications which do not have adequate parking.”

Superintendent Nick Mclain said that local authorities are “the lead agency for parking enforcement”.

He said: “Throughout the rest of Wales, local authorities are the lead agency for parking enforcement, rather than the police. To ensure there is a consistent approach across the country it is our intention to transfer the enforcement of parking in Gwent to the local authorities. As you would expect, we will work closely with our local authority partners on this matter to ensure the public receive an effective service”.

Cllr Debbie Wilcox, leader of the council, added: “Following members consideration, and should approval be granted, there is a statutory process to be undertaken with Welsh Government to formally transfer the relevant powers.”