Idling penalties for Wakefield drivers not imminent, council insists, despite approving new zones to tackle issue

Labour councillors have insisted drivers in Wakefield won't be fined in the immediate future for idling, after the Conservatives claimed punishments would be "draconian".

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 1:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 1:36 pm

The council has announced a crackdown on the practice, where motorists leave their engines running while their car is parked.

"No idling" zones will be set up outside local primary schools.

A motion put forward and passed by Labour at a meeting on Wednesday noted that councils are able to fine motorists £20 for idling.

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The council said they would start with a public awareness campaign about idling.

But after the opposition Tory group criticised the prospect of drivers being penalised, Labour clarified that fixed penalty notices would not be dished out straight away.

Instead, an awareness campaign will be launched, alongside work with head teachers, parents and bus companies.

Speaking at Wednesday's meeting, new Conservative councillor Akef Akbar said he would be strongly against fixed penalty notices.

He said: "It's a very draconian approach to start dealing with this issue by way of fines.

Councillor Akef Akbar told the meeting that the prospect of immediate fines for drivers was "draconian".

"Jumping straight in and trying to police this I think is wholly inappropriate.

"As a council we can't police simple matters such as littering. It needs a different approach."

Fellow Tory Nic Stansby suggested £20 fines for those unable to pay was "cruel" and wouldn't change the behaviour of drivers who could afford the fine.

But Labour insisted fixed penalty notices would not be introduced imminently.

The issue was debated at a full council meeting in Wakefield's old Market Hall on Wednesday.

The council's deputy leader, Jack Hemingway, said: "I think it's very clear from the motion that we'll be doing an awareness campaign.

"That's the first step.

"But at the end of the day, this is about children's health.

"10 seconds of idling costs more fuel than switching the car engine off altogether.

"It's bad for children, it's bad for the environment and it's also contrary to the Highway Code."

Local Democracy Reporting Service