Wakefield Council cautious about taking over police road traffic powers without funding

Wakefield Council says it will only take on police powers to punish drivers for motoring offences if it's given enough cash to do so.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:26 am

Local authorities will soon be able to apply for the right to issue £70 fines for crimes such as ignoring road signs, stopping in a yellow-box junction or going the wrong way down a one-way street.

Outside of London and Cardiff, such matters have, up until now, been enforced by police.

A meeting on Tuesday was told that Wakefield's West Yorkshire neighbours Leeds and Bradford have expressed an interest in taking on the powers.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

Councils will soon be able to apply to take over some traffic enforcement powers from the police.

But council chiefs here are waiting to see if they will be adequately funded, before following suit.

They believe there's no point taking on the extra powers if they are not given the money to employ more enforcement officers.

If they don't, police will still be responsible for fining offenders in Wakefield.

Speaking at a meeting of local town and parish council representatives, the council's highways manager Graham West said: "There is now an opportunity for local authorities to take on Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act.

Drivers can be fined up to £70 for breaking certain rules.

"So where a vehicle drives down a one-way street for example, or stops in a yellow box junction at a traffic light system.

"Before any powers are transferred we have to make sure money comes with it, or that there's sustainable funding for it.

"The first applications can be made on May 31 this year. I know Bradford have gone with it and Leeds have, but elsewhere in West Yorkshire we're trying to understand if it's financially viable."

Meanwhile the council has also committed to spending £3m on verge hardening across the district over the next three years, in a bid to address pavement parking problems.

The government is considering introducing an outright ban on pavement parking.

It follows suggestions from several councillors last year that some grassy roadside areas have been turned into "mudbaths" by car tyres.There's long-standing concerns too about forcing pedestrians, pushchairs and prams out onto the road.

Councils however, are still waiting for directions from the Department of Transport about a possible outright ban on pavement parking.

Crofton Parish Council chairman Trevor Chalkley told the meeting: "I'm one of a couple of people in our village who gets their mowers out and cuts the grass verges, because we like them to be cut short.

"I get quite touchy when people park their cars on them. I'm one of those who comes flying out their doors and says, "Shift it!"

The problem we've had is enforcement, because some of the verges get chewed up.

"And they don't just get chewed up because of private cars, but company vehicles as well.

"There should be a little more enforcement to protect those verges."

Mr West said that the verge hardening would not eradicate grassed areas, but that it would allow cars to park without obstructing traffic.

He said: "We want to keep the verges green, we don't want to be putting down swathes of tarmac.

"In terms of enforcement, at the moment from a council point of view, we can only enforce if we've got a traffic regulation order in place. But we will work with the police as well.

"I totally support what you're saying about keeping the villages clean and tidy. I thank you for cutting the grass and asking people to move off verges."

Local Democracy Reporting Service