A fall in the number of parking tickets issued in Fife last year has been partly put down to staffing issues and the closure of the Forth Road Bridge.
Yet Fife Council still raked in almost £500,000 after wardens handed out 16,904 penalty charge notices – taking the local authority’s total over the last three years to more than £1.5 million.
The figures have been outlined in a new report to Fife’s environment, finance and communities scrutiny committee, and highlights the situation since April 2013 when the council assumed responsiblity for enforcing most parking and waiting regulations following the introduction of decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE).
Statistics revealed that £499,218 was raised from fines in 2015/16, although that was down from the £585,378 reaped in 2014/15 when 19,248 tickets were dished out.
Tony McRae, lead professional for parking and public transport infrastructure management, said improved compliance levels by motorists had made a difference, but admitted a number of other factors had been to blame.
Long-term sickness absence and staff turnover played their part, he explained, while the fact that parking enforcement was relaxed around railway stations in south Fife during the three-week closure of the Forth Road Bridge also contributed to the situation.
“Although the overall number of parking charge notices has decreased, overall the DPE operation is performing well and there has been an increase in the number of patrols,” he said.
“Staffing levels aside, there have been noticeable improvements in compliance, particularly in the main town centre areas.
“Beats and procedures will continue to be monitored and reviewed to ensure that we continue to provide an effective service.”
The enforcement team, which is based at Bankhead in Glenrothes, consists of 18 parking attendants, three parking supervisors and a parking co-ordinator.
Councillors asked Mr McRae if an extra staff member could be accommodated, given the fact that the service takes in more revenue from fines than staff costs, but he suggested that the 1,000 extra fines needed to justify that expense “simply weren’t out there”.
Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing and Cupar were top of the fines list, although there were some noticeable increases in the past year, such as Newburgh, where the number went from 22 to 99, and Dalgety Bay, which had 89 fines last year compared to just 12 the year before.
“We have started to give other areas some more attention that we probably didn’t give before,” Mr McRae explained.
Parents parking on School Keep Clear markings was also highlighted as a recurring problem by councillors, and it emerged that just 12 fines had been issued for that practice last year.
But Mr McRae explained: “One of the problems faced by parking attendants at schools is that parents tend to be sitting in their vehicles and simply drive off when the parking attendants appear.
“We don’t have the resource to routinely go around every school – there are 137 primaries in Fife, so it’s quite a number.”