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Swale council's parking manager quashes traffic warden misconceptions at the Sheppey local engagement forum

By Lewis Dyson

The man who oversees the borough’s parking regulations has said negative perceptions of traffic wardens are unwarranted.

Jeff Kitson, parking services manager at Swale and Maidstone councils, said enforcement officers were “very professional people who go about their role under very difficult circumstances”.

Speaking at a Local Engagement Forum meeting last Tuesday, he said their main purposes were to ensure there is a free flow of traffic on the highway, enable drivers have an equal opportunity to park on and off the street and also to protect the council’s pay and display income, which last year was about £1.5 million.

Shepway District Council said a ticket was not issued. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library.
Shepway District Council said a ticket was not issued. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library.

He said the money is used to provide the service and any surplus has to be ploughed back into transport initiatives.

Mr Kitson went on to say there were “an awful lot of urban myths” surrounding wardens.

He said: “I’ve never really understood how they can be over-zealous.

“They either observe it or they don’t and the appeals process will always sort out any problems.

“I see it all the time: ‘The civil enforcement officer smiled as they gave the ticket so they clearly enjoy their work.’ What do you want them to do?”

Wardens do not receive commission, nor do they have a quota.

Mr Kitson said to do so would be impractical and pointed out how employees working in Eastchurch would never be able to issue as many tickets as a colleague working in Sittingbourne High Street.

Fines in the borough can be issued at either £50 or £70, depending on the severity of the breach, and more than 50% of all drivers pay the discounted half rate by choosing to respond within two weeks.

In an average week, 420 penalty charge notices are handed out and 150 appeals are submitted.

Mr Kitson said the borough was “four to six weeks” away from having parking meters that send text messages to tell drivers when their time is almost up and even lets them extend their stay through their mobile phone.

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