HANDING over responsibility for tackling illegal parking in Newport from police to council officers would cost taxpayers in the city £1.39 million to set up, and £588,000 a year to run, a report has said.

But the report also estimates, although the council would make a loss of about £19,600 on the scheme in its first year, it would make a predicted annual profit of almost £22,300 from the second year onwards.

Gwent Police has already said it will stop enforcing parking restrictions as of the start of April 2018 in an effort to focus on more serious crime, and Newport City Council is considering introducing decriminalised parking, through which responsibility for cracking down on drivers flaunting on-road restrictions or parking on double-yellow lines is taken over by the authority.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on Thursday, where the issue will be discussed, the authority's cabinet member for streetscene Cllr Roger Jeavons said: "Illegal parking is obviously a cause for concern for many residents and businesses and Newport City Council is examining ways to tackle this.

“Proposals before the committee will be examined and recommendations will be discussed but the final decision is still a long way off."

A series of reports will be presented to the committee detailing the implications of introducing the scheme.

One of the reports says: “With illegal parking within the city centre currently being at unprecedented levels, the viability and reputation of the city as a retail, business and tourist destination is at risk."

It added: “In recent years, Gwent Police has treated parking enforcement with ever diminishing priority in favour of deploying their limited resources to address more serious crime.

“Although the police continue to maintain some levels of enforcement, action is taken only when and if resources become available.”

It added: “Newport would be able to ensure that their parking policies are implemented effectively, with consequent benefits through improved traffic flow, safer environments for pedestrians and other road users, improved usage of available on and off street parking, improved stakeholder satisfaction and improved city reputation.

“Transient parking issues such as outside schools that currently get limited enforcement from the police could be targeted.

“The integration of enforcement and parking policy responsibilities should provide better monitoring of the effectiveness and value of parking controls, so that parking provision becomes more responsive to local needs."

Leader of the council’s Conservative group Cllr Matthew Evans, who is a member of the committee, said he was concerned the plan could lead to parking tickets being used as a “stealth tax”.

“I am not against it per se, but I do think we will need a lot more information,” he said.

“But I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

One of the reports says 17 of the 22 local authorities in Wales have already taken over responsibility for parking, with the five Gwent councils the only ones who have not yet done so. It says in the 2015-2016 financial year Swansea Council handed out 42,000 parking tickets, including 33,500 to drivers parking on streets and 8,500 in car parks, making the authority a total profit of £90,654.

Tomorrow’s meeting at Newport Civic Centre will begin at 10am and is open to the public.

To view the full reports visit tinyurl.com/ycdgk4t9