MUNICIPALITIES could soon be hiring private traffic wardens to stalk the streets in search of illegally parked cars, according to new legislation pending parliamentary approval.
The bill has been prepared by the communications ministry to tackle to the perennial problem of dodgy parking, and has won the approval of the police and unio n of municipalities.
Asked about the bill, the ministry’s senior executive engineer Michalis Lambrinos said yesterday: “This legislation gives municipalities the right to outsource parking regulation. Through contracts they can access the private sector to manage illegally parked cars or cars that have stayed longer than the period.”
Lambrinos explained that according to these contracts, municipalities will have the final say in how they manage private companies, for example, by charging a commission for each illegally parked car.
“It will make money for the municipalities by getting people to pay for their parking, and it is a matter for them how they structure it. The problem is actually to solve illegal parking and get people to pay for parking. This is why we (the ministry of communication and public works) started the debate” Lambrinos said.
Such schemes have been not been without controversies, however.
For example, Ireland’s Sunday Independent reported this week that a council in County Dublin has earned around €7 million in parking fees and fines this year, with around €3.6m in fines imposed by the Germany-based parking company, ACPOA.
And in the UK a proliferation of private parking firms has opened up a legal minefield in which unscrupulous firms have variously operated beyond the boundaries of the law, while errant drivers have successfully challenged firms by finding loopholes.
The ministry, which has studied other countries’ parking management systems, will be on hand to offer advice to municipalities on the law’s implementation. With the law pending parliamentary approval and municipal elections in December, it is unlikely that private wardens would be out in force until 2012.
“We will be informing the municipalities about the law after the elections” Lambrinos said.
By Patrick Dewhurst