Council defends new £100k traffic charges

By Gavin McEwan   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Thursday 16th June 2022 6:00 am

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New traffic and parking measures for Herefordshire are intended to raise £100,000 from drivers over the next two years.

Herefordshire Council’s head of transport Cllr John Harrington has approved the plans as part of a £550,000 spending package intended to boost the council’s finances.

There will be £100,000 for a programme to bring in traffic cameras and other infrastructure to spot driving offences across Herefordshire.

Operated by the council, these are expected to yield a net income of £59,000 over this financial year and the next.

Cllr Harrington said: “Although we do desperately need revenue, the reason for bringing in camera monitoring of moving traffic offences is because the national law has changed to allow councils to do the job that the police have been failing to do.”

Such offences would likely include drivers ignoring weight restrictions, rat-running, and others that residents “regularly express their concerns over”, he explained.

“Those who will get fined are breaking the law or contravening regulations – often repeatedly because there is no or minimal police enforcement.”

New signage will ensure “the unfamiliar are not unfairly impacted”, he added.

But Cllr Jonathan Lester, leader of the opposition Conservatives on the council, said that while supporting “measures that increase and promote road safety” his group are concerned that the enforcement cameras “may charge motorists for honest mistakes”, particularly in Hereford.

“Given the traffic problems in the city, it would be unfair to profit from motorists who unwittingly find themselves ensnared in such a system,” Coun Lester said.

A business case to supprt the plan must first be developed and approval then sought from the Government.

The council has already taken on an outside consultant to gauge how many traffic offences such measures would be likely to detect.

A further £100,000 will go on plans to extend Hereford’s on-street pay-and-display parking areas, both in the area covered and the rates charged.

The funding will be used to develop a business case, draft the legal measures, and potentially install new ticket machines. If brought in, the council expects the plan to yield £41,000 over the next two years.

But the council insists the parking measures will be to “manage demand”, with income from the scheme “a consequence and not the purpose”.

Cllr Harrington said extending parking zones “will prevent residential streets from becoming clogged with commuter parking, which causes residents inconvenience and stress”.

Herefordshire Council, like all other authorities, has over several years been receiving less and less funding from the Government to help run its services.

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