RESIDENTS have reacted with mixed views over the future enforcement of on-street parking across Gwent.

Gwent Police have informed all councils in their patch that they intend to withdraw officers and staff from activities that involve enforcing parking restrictions as of April 1, 2018.

Superintendent Nick Mclain said the reason for withdrawing officers is because throughout the rest of Wales local authorities are “the lead agency for parking enforcement rather than the police”.

He said: “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.”

The cabinet member at Newport council for Streetscene, Cllr Roger Jeavons, said it would be “at least 18 months from approval” before the council could take over responsibility of on-street parking from the police.

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.”

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

A spokesman for Torfaen County Borough Council said: “Our discussions with Gwent Police are on-going and as yet no formal decisions have been taken.”

Head of operations for Monmouthshire County Council Roger Hoggins said: “Monmouthshire County Council’s officers are working with colleagues in the other Gwent councils and Gwent Police to prepare plans for the transfer of on–street parking enforcement to local authorities.”

A spokeswoman for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council added: “This review is still progressing and once completed will offer various methods for delivering the service together with their respective financial models. Once completed, these options will be presented to councillors for consideration.”

Council leader Cllr David Poole, from Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “Our current position is that we, along with the other Gwent local authorities, agreed to progress business cases in order to better understand the policy, financial and operational implications of taking on Civil Parking Enforcement powers. This work is progressing, after which reports will need to be prepared for members’ consideration.”

But on Monday former Conservative council leader Cllr Matthew Evans claimed it would cost Newport council more than £1million if it were to accept responsibility for parking enforcement.

He said: “Decriminalising parking involves a massive amount of money.

“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.”

He also claimed that the council would need to introduce meters and enforcement cameras to make money to ensure the project is viable. But he warned the measures could hit small traders and businesses.

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Kevin Ward, manager of Newport Now’s Business Improvement District (BID) – which represents 450 businesses in Newport – said the organisation has several concerns.

These range from security to the practicalities of the potential changeover – which could temporarily leave Newport without parking enforcement.

He said: “There could be a period where nobody is policing parking,” he said.

“A lot of people in Newport are concerned about that.

“We understand that the police have got limited resources but if you have rules around parking then the only way to make sure people abide by those rules is to enforce them.”

Fifty-nine-year-old Christian Tyler, who lives in Baneswell, said he was “appalled” with parking enforcement no longer being the responsibility of Gwent Police.

He said: “It’s sort of like the council turning round and saying ‘we’re no longer going to pick up your rubbish’.

“One of the main roles of the police is to deal with parking issues. How can they turn round and say they’ll no longer do it?

“I’m appalled with this. The council has enough to deal with as it is, let alone having more responsibility dumped on it.”

He added: “I suppose the council hasn’t had much of a say in this, have they? If the responsibility has been dumped then they’ll have to come in and take it over.”

Jo Fleming, who lives in Pill, questioned what would happen if councils refused to take responsibility of for parking enforcement.

“What would happen then?” said Mrs Fleming.

“Gwent Police have put into the open that they’ll no longer take responsibility, but what happens if the councils won’t? That’s a worrying thought.

“I don’t think this has been well-thought out. The police should continue to be in charge of enforcing parking.”

The 34-year-old added: “It just seems to be a complete mess.”

Another Pill resident, Roy Blake, said his “biggest worry” is the cost of the council taking over responsibility of parking enforcement.

“I read that the council could end up paying over £1 million,” said Mr Blake.

“It’s money, money, money. We don’t have the money for this. I was chatting to a shop owner and he said putting up meters would affect his business.”

Other people, however, were supportive of the possibility of councils taking over responsibility.

Pontypool resident Michael Johnstone, 44, said councils could earn money from the project which could then be “put back” into the community.

He said: “All councils have been hit by austerity and now they have a chance to make more of their own money.

“That money can then be put back into the community, where it is needed.”

Christine England echoed similar remarks.

She said: “If the councils can make more money who would want to be against that?

“I think councils could do a good job. The number of people parking illegally is awful.

“I’m sure the councils could do a much better job at enforcing legal parking than what’s currently happening.”

Cwmbran resident Craig Williams added: “Police haven’t stopped people from parking illegally. I don’t care who’s in charge just as long as they stop illegal parking.”