Saturday 16 December 2017

Fears traffic warden service to be privatised

A clamped car.
A clamped car.

Michael Moran

Privately employed traffic wardens could soon be on the streets of Sligo.

Fears have been expressed it will lead to a dramatic rise in the number of parking tickets being issued and the introduction of clamping.

The IMPACT Trade Union said there are plans to 'outsource' the provision of the Traffic Warden service initially on a six-month trial period.

There is only one warden working in the Borough area at present.

North West Assistant General Secretary Richy Carrothers said: "Sligo Borough Council has redeployed staff out of the Traffic Warden section.

"Retirees have not been replaced. To put it simply, internal and more cost-effective solutions are available by way of staff redeployment.

"It would seem they are wedded to an outsourced model at all costs."

Mr Carrothers added: "The main issue as I see it is that the people of Sligo would have to deal with a private provider, rather than the local authority.

"Experience elsewhere tells us price hikes and clamping often follow when a private provider is introduced.

"Increased charges would place a greater burden on hard pressed businesses in the town."

The matter was raised by Councillor Sean McManus at the final meeting of the Borough Council.

County Manager Ciaran Hayes said: "There are no proposals to privatise the car parks. We are seeking expressions of interest from the private sector to manage and enforce the car parking bye-laws as they exist.

"That does not imply increased charges, or the introduction of clamping."

The Manager told The Sligo Champion: "We have only one Traffic Warden. There is a public service staff embargo.

"We have to examine ways to ensure how there is comprehensive enforcement of the bye-laws throughout the city.

"One of those is the franchising out of ticket enforcement. I repeat, this is not about privatisation or clamping. It is not about raising the car park charges. It's about enforcing the existing bye-laws."

Moves to privatise traffic warden duties must be resisted, Cllr Declan Bree said.

"If you put a service like that out to tender you would have a company only interested in making money and slapping tickets on cars right, left and centre.

"Traders and business people in Sligo are finding it difficult enough to survive in the present climate.

"If the traffic warden system is outsourced and privatised it would clearly lead to stricter enforcement of the parking bye-laws.

"A private company will want to maximise its profit by issuing as many tickets as it can."

"Such a move would drive shoppers out of Sligo," he said.

Sligo Champion

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