by Hayley Robinson
Zero tolerance towards people parking on the footpaths of Sittingbourne High Street – that’s what Chalkwell Labour councillor Ghlin Whelan is calling for.
Parking was brought up during a Local Engagement Forum (LEF) meeting at Phoenix House, Central Avenue, Sittingbourne, in December.
Cllr Whelan said: "We have been struggling to make progress on this for the last five years when it was first brought up by former Cllr Ann McLean who was part of the Swale Access Group.
"She raised the fact it causes problems for those in wheelchairs or who are partially sighted or blind.
"We have been campaigning since then to get the police or the council to admit whose responsibility it is to carry out enforcement and at last police have said it is theirs.
"Cars and lorries do not belong on the footpaths and they are a hazard."
District Commander for Swale Tony Henley and Inspector Evan Jones attended the meeting, during which they told councillors and residents that there is now a police officer in the town centre monitoring the problem as part of their duties and that 66 penalty notice tickets, which carry a £60 fine, have been issued to motorists for this offence since November 20 – 28 of those to cars parked illegally in the High Street.
But concerns were raised once again when the following night, despite empty laybys, Cllr Whelan found seven vehicles parked on the pavement at the west end of the High Street.
The following day he saw a large lorry parked on the pavement between bollards, unloading. As a result he is now calling for regular updates from Kent police on the matter at future LEF meetings.
He said: "I am surprised that violations continue when vehicles have had tickets in recent weeks.
"People are concerned about this issue and I will continue to press the police for progress reports."
Insp Jones said: "Pedestrians have to walk in the road because some motorists believe they can park on the pavement and the standard of parking on the High Street, at times, is appalling.
"We will continue to deal robustly with any offences we see or are reported to us."
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