Traffic warden shortage to 'cost' Newcastle Borough Council £30k
FEWER parking tickets have been handed out across Newcastle borough – because of a traffic warden shortage.
Latest figures show 2,731 £70 parking fines were issued across the borough between April and September.
That compares with 3,555 parking fines over the same six months in 2011.
It means income raised from the penalty charge notices (PCNs) has fallen from £93,258 to £65,812.
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Much of the decrease is being blamed on one of the borough's six civil enforcement officer (CEO) posts being vacant over the six-month period.
A total of 1,977 of the 2,731 fines have been paid, with 497 cancelled and 257 still in progress.
The main reason for the cancellations is still motorists displaying blue badges or valid parking tickets incorrectly.
Taxi driver Bashir Choudhry, of Grice Road, Hartshill, had his parking ticket overturned after being fined for parking outside Newcastle Police Station.
Mr Choudhry won his appeal after Staffordshire Police agreed he had been allowed to park outside the station.
Only 0.5 per cent of PCNs issued were cancelled as a result of parking warden errors.
A report to Staffordshire's Joint Parking Board states: "The income is less than the budget for the year. The majority of this decrease is due to a vacant post which is due to be filled shortly."
For the first time since Newcastle Borough Council took over responsibility for civil parking enforcement in 2007, more tickets were issued for off-street parking indiscretions than on-street (1,404 compared to 1,327).
The report also says that the most common area of complaint continues to be problem parking close to schools.
Newcastle Chamber of Trade and Enterprise has long called for town centre parking to be cheaper to attract more visitors. Chamber president Carl Evans, who runs Cartridge World in George Street, also believes overzealous wardens are putting people off.
He said: "We're trying to encourage people to stay longer in the town centre and build a cafe and shopping culture here. But that can't happen when there are such Draconian punishments for overstaying your welcome.
"I know that parking brings in income for the council, but we would like to see a reduction in parking charges and fines."
Motorists have also backed calls to reduce parking fees in the town centre.
Musician Mike Sheldon, aged 26, of Werrington, said: "Parking in the centre of Newcastle is pretty expensive.
"I go there quite regularly and when I do, I tend to park outside the town centre and walk in as it saves cash."