While traffic wardens are becoming a more regular sight in Dungiven, local politicians say having “red coats” in the town is not its first requirement.
New figures reveal Dungiven is among a handful of ticketless towns in the North in 2011, while in Limavady, where traffic wardens patrol each day, except Sundays, 1,331 tickets were issued.
Traffic wardens have been seen patrolling Dungiven for a couple of hours on a couple of days a month, according to politicians. Wardens were spotted as recently as yesterday.
SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said it’s no great surprise the town had no tickets issued in 2011 because the wardens are there so little.
A big problem in the town is how and where people park, he says, which could be major issues for people needing accessible parking.
Colr. Coyle asked for traffic wardens in 2010 to deal with illegal parking on the footpath and accessible parking.
“There are five accessible parking bays in Dungiven and yesterday, I was in town for 25 minutes, and four of the five bays were in use but none of the cars displayed a blue badge.”
Colr. Coyle said another issue was drivers parking on double yellow lines and near traffic islands which cause delays for larger vehicles passing through. That results in further delays for other motorists.
He urged drivers parking in Dungiven to be sensible and consider others, especially those who require accessible parking.
“Park where it is safe and not inconvenient for other people,” he said.
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has called on a review of traffic enforcement after the latest figures show a growing gap between the cost of policing traffic to that raised through parking fines.
“What is needed in Dungiven is a bypass, alternative adequate parking for a park and ride scheme, and the establishment of some parking restrictions within the business area in the middle of the town. Traffic wardens, without any of the above, are meaningless and contrary to their purpose and hence the reason why we see no tickets issued.
“Since privatisation of the service in 2006 the cost of implementing the services has grown from £7million to over £9.3 million pound while at the same time the revenue created has gone from over £6 million to just over £4 million.
“In areas like Dungiven and Claudy there has not been a single ticket issued yet we continue to pay for traffic attendants to patrol these areas.
“This is partly due to the fact that there are no parking restrictions in these areas so it is questionable what exactly are these parking attendants policing.
“I think the Department of Regional Development need to re-visit this as matter of urgency as quite a bit of public money is being spent with no effect.”
A DRD Roads Service spokesperson said: “Roads Service has received complaints about illegal parking in some areas of Dungiven. Mobile patrols will operate in the town one day a week Monday to Saturday on an ad hoc basis to help improve traffic management to benefit all road users.”