Fine news indeed... drop of 6% in parking tickets
Traffic wardens are issuing fewer fixed penalty notices to motorists in Northern Ireland, new figures have revealed.
And a retail chief has praised the "more commonsense" approach of the 'red coats'.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said he hoped the level of tickets being issued could be reduced even further.
The ticket totals have shown a 6% drop this year so far, and that's on top of a decrease of 11% last year.
The apparent softening of attitudes means that more than 13,200 fewer tickets were issued last year by the wardens as compared to 2011.
Across the province, a total of 125,848 PCNs – penalty charge notices – were issued in 2011, which dropped to 112,609 in 2012.
And a total of 61,990 PCNs have been issued for the first seven months of 2013, according to the Department for Regional Development.
In the Belfast City Council area alone, numbers have decreased from 36,355 in 2011 to 32,155 in 2012 – a fall of more than 4,000.
And again the level of PCNs for this year shows a decline with only 15,498 issued within the council boundaries between January and July.
Ulster Unionist Mr Kennedy said: "It is great news that more motorists are parking legally, making the roads freer of possible congestion and safer for other drivers and pedestrians."
After the first signs of a fall, Mr Kennedy last year said it was proof that the tickets were not issued just to cause "inconvenience" or "nuisance".
But it also came after the Belfast Telegraph revealed almost 60% of motorists who challenged traffic wardens over parking ticket fines had won their cases.
Glyn Roberts, head of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said he believed the red coats army was taking a 'softly, softly' approach.
"It is welcome that fewer penalties are being handed out. A more commonsense approach appears to have been adopted.
"Rather than just slapping on a fine, the wardens seem to be trying to work with motorists," he said.
"In some cases they are maybe waiting a little while and advising the motorists to move on, rather than automatically issuing a ticket.
"Clearly, we still have a lot more to do in terms of boosting town centres."