Fears Bognor Regis parking tickets could drive away motorists

More than 4,000 parking fines have been handed out to motorists around Bognor Regis in the past year.

The number of penalty charge notices issued since Arun District Council took over enforcement of parking on the streets as well as car parks has reached 343 a month.

Each notice imposes a fine of either £70 for a serious offence, such as parking on a loading restriction, or £50 for an offence like overstaying on a pay-and-display ticket.

The sums are halved if the fines are paid within a fortnight. Delaying payment can increase them by 50 per cent.

This means the potential total received by the council from the fines could be between £15,000-£20,000.

The tally of 4,121 drivers who have been penalised has been criticised by town-centre business owner Chris Heaps.

Mr Heaps, the vice-chairman of the Arun and Chichester branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It seems an enormous number of tickets for a small town.

“It would obviously discourage people from visiting the town if they were issued with one of the notices.

“This sort of enforcement drives people out of town. They will go to where there is free parking and they don’t face parking penalties. It’s human nature and it’s the sensible thing to do.

“The situation is not doing businesses in the town any good because it puts people off coming into the town centre.

“But I obviously accept that people who park dangerously or inappropriately should be fined.”

Monday saw the first anniversary of the district council taking control of kerbside parking. Its civil enforcement officers took on the role from the former police-controlled traffic wardens.

Arun has six full-time enforcement officers and four part-time ones. A further five full-time officers work during the summer.

Paul Dendle, Arun’s lead councillor for the environment, said: “Clearly, with a controlled parking zone that was already in existence, management of on street parking – including enforcement – is nothing new for Bognor.

“However, with Arun under civil parking enforcement being able to schedule more regular and appropriately-targeted patrols, I am confident this has contributed to improved traffic flows and proper use of on-street spaces.

“We will continue to work closely with West Sussex County Council as they review the controlled parking zone in Bognor over the coming months with a view to them determining any changes or extension for implementation in 2013.”

The number of notices issued has, however, not led to a surge of attacks on the civil enforcement officers.

The past year has seen just two incidents referred to the police.