Poll: Norwich’s ‘under-staffed’ traffic warden team to be bolstered ahead of Christmas

Christmas shoppers have been warned to park legally in Norwich's streets after council bosses said extra traffic wardens would be patrolling the city.

Norwich City Council documents show it has collected almost �27,000 less from on-street parking fines in the first six months of 2012/13 compared to the same period in 2011/12.

The authority says this is because its team of traffic wardens, or civil enforcement officers (CEOs), has been under-staffed.

Bert Bremner, the city council's cabinet member for transportation, said: 'My view of traffic wardens by enforcing the regulations, they are not there to be malicious, they are there to keep the streets clear. So often you find places blocked by vehicles.

'They will not just be in the city centre - they will be enforcing permits all over the city. There will be concentrations in the city centre in shopping times.

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'We are looking forward to them helping things run smoothly and to allow shoppers to get in and out and get their presents ready for Christmas.'

Three retirements and a recruitment freeze while the service was reviewed has left the council short of five CEOs.

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But five new wardens have been employed to bring the team back-up to its full strength of 25.

Two of the CEOs have been trained and are currently working on the streets to learn the city and the restrictions, according to the council.

Three more are attending a training course starting on Monday, December 17, and will be out and about in Norwich from Friday, December 21.

Mr Bremner said more complaints about parking problems tended to concern Norwich's zones where permits are required.

But he said warden numbers had to be a limited to ensure the service was affordable.

Mr Bremner added: 'It's the notices that really work. I go into an area and, if I see a permit parking sign, I don't stay and park.'

The city council raised �669,028 from handing out fines to motorists who parked illegally in Norwich's streets in 2011/12 - an increase from 2010/11's �650,606.

The authority's income from fines was down by �26,992 between April 2012, and September 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

Stefan Gurney, Norwich Business Improvement District project manager, said shoppers will have to be vigilant but parking enforcement played an important role in the city centre.

Mr Gurney said: 'Usually over the Christmas period it's vital to ensure the city has a good flow of traffic and congestion is reduced to a minimum.

'Having traffic wardens, while not the easiest of jobs to do, it's one of the jobs that keeps the city flowing.'

Mr Gurney said there was a 'huge uplift' in visitor numbers into Norwich over the festive period, and it was already noticeable.

He said: 'Looking at the car parks at 10am yesterday, every one was full.

'We should be promoting and pushing park and ride to help support that. If you are coming for a full day, using the park and ride will ease the congestion and the turnaround of traffic in the city.'

Stephen Little, Green Party city councillor, said there were various parking issues in his Town Close ward, including business and residents' permits.

He said: 'Residents normally are keen for more enforcement.'

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