Traffic warden's welcome return

For irate and inconsiderate motorists they are seen as little tin pot dictators who regularly feature in the list of the nation's most hated and derided professions.

For irate and inconsiderate motorists they are seen as little tin pot dictators who regularly feature in the list of the nation's most hated and derided professions.

But for the people of a busy north Norfolk town the sight of Norfolk Constabulary traffic warden 6178 patrolling the streets is a very welcome addition to the town.

From this week motorists flouting parking regulations in Holt will meet their match in Andy Barker, who is determined to make sure that traffic keeps flowing in the picturesque town, which attracts hundreds of thousands of shoppers every year.

Instead of being met with scowls of disapproval and howls of anguish Andy has been warmly welcomed by Holt, which has not seen a sniff of a traffic warden in the last two months.

Because there has not been a traffic warden in Holt, its roads have been routinely blocked by motorists who know they can leave their vehicles where they like without any fear of punishment - unless caught by sporadic police patrols.

Andy, who has already dished out two £30 parking fines in his first few days, said: “My job is not about handing out tickets but keeping traffic flowing regularly.

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“Many people and shops have said they are glad to see me as the town was getting a bit choked up with cars.

“Because people knew there was no traffic warden they could leave their cars overnight on double yellow lines or take up valuable parking spaces.”

Andy, who used to be a stereotypical London white van driver, is responsible for enforcing parking not only in Holt but in Fakenham and Wells.

His two weeks training by Norfolk Constabulary highlighted the importance of not rising to the bait if drivers become abusive or threatening after receiving a parking ticket.

The 44-year-old from Bodham said: “We are told to be cool, clam and collected and try to diffuse the situation if any one gets confrontational.

“If that does not work the best thing is just to walk and hope you do not get a thump.”

If anyone did aggressive towards Andy a quick call on his radio would drum up police help and he knows he would get the support of the town if he was abused.

Michael Baker, of family owned department store Bakers & Larners said: “After we lost our traffic warden it became unfortunate that people seemed to forget their normal parking practices and followed a policy of abandoning their vehicles on the roads all day long instead.

“Having a warden back is a tremendous benefit to the town as it helps keep traffic circulating so people can easily find spots to park and do their shopping, which is essential to Holt's success.”

Andy, who also can hand out fines for out of displaying date or fraudulent tax discs, is also becoming a dab hand in helping lost visitors find their way around Holt.

He said: “I like to think of my role as helping people get out so others can come in.”

“The job does require a fair bit of diligence and patience, but I do enjoy meeting members of the public, who so far, touch wood have been very nice to me.”

Painter decorator Peter Watts, of Briston, and who was working on a house in Holt's Albert Street, said: “It is so nice to see a traffic warden again.

“There has been chaos in the town because people have been finding it hard to park because other people knew they could get away with leaving their cars anywhere.”

Andy is the first of three new traffic wardens employed by the police for north Norfolk. Inconsiderate parkers will soon have to get used to the sight of his colleagues stalking the streets of Cromer and North Walsham as they hunt down traffic regulation violators.