Heat put on 'red coats' to dole out a lot more parking tickets, claims DUP's Frew
A Stormont minister is being urged to investigate claims that 'red coat' parking attendants are being put under pressure by their bosses to issue more tickets, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The DUP's Paul Frew may also bring the allegations to an Assembly committee after tabling a question following complaints from the wardens themselves.
"It seems to be an increasing pressure they are under over the recent weeks and months," the North Antrim MLA said.
"Wardens who are perceived not to have issued sufficient fines are being asked why they are not issuing more."
The claims were denied by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard, whose department did not immediately indicate yesterday whether it would investigate the allegations further.
Mr Frew intends to meet with the wardens again and may then raise the issue through party colleagues on the Assembly committee that monitors Mr Hazzard's department.
"The allegations actually come from the staff themselves, and while we all joke about this, and hear anecdotally that this is going on, I think this should be taken very, very seriously," he said. "Some of the staff I have spoken to are concerned about this getting back to them and so they have not gone into great detail and do not want to have it attributed to them. But they have spoken to me very candidly.
"They have told me that questions are raised about the number of tickets that they have issued. A lot of them have said they are coming under pressure to issue more.
"If it is the case that this is down to a considerable gap between some of the wardens and others, I believe the minister and the department should come out and say that.
"You would actually think that if enforcement is working then the total number of tickets being issued would come down.
"The wardens are most effective by their presence, I think when they are visible motorists will not take any risks with parking. They do not necessarily have to be issuing fines to be doing their jobs."
In a written reply Sinn Fein's Mr Hazzard said: "The department contracts NSL Services to provide enforcement of on-street parking restrictions. NSL Services also carry out enforcement, as part of an agency agreement, overseen by the department, on behalf of the councils for their off-street car parks.
"The contract between the department and NSL clearly states that neither the department nor NSL will impose any targets based on numbers of penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued and that no incentives are to be offered to traffic attendants to issue more PCNs.
"The contract sets no ticket targets for the enforcement contractor. NSL in conjunction with the department continuously review the effectiveness of the deployment of traffic attendants to keep bus lanes, clearways and other arterial and main routes free from congestion.
"Deployment is managed to ensure enforcement at those locations where the greatest impact on the safe and free movement of traffic can be delivered while at the same time ensuring that normal enforcement duties on street and in off street car parks is maintained."
In 2011 a total of 125,848 parking tickets were issued across NI.