Traffic Wardens given the red card

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

THE Department For Infrastructure has withdrawn routine Traffic Warden patrols from Coalisland.

It follows a "will they" or "won't they" controversy in recent weeks over whether Traffic Wardens will patrol the town, described as a parking ticket not-spot with no tickets issued within the past four years.

As reported in the Courier, matters came to a head in November when a Traffic Warden was introduced to Coalisland, but left shortly afterwards when he was hounded out of the town.

The Department of Infrastructure confirmed that the traffic attendant spent just 30 minutes in the town before leaving and did not issue any tickets.

When quizzed on claims that the attendant was hounded out of the town by individuals, a spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure failed to deny the claim, instead confirming that "staff safety is critical to all operations".

In December, the Department confirmed red coats would be returning to the town.

Speaking to the Courier in December, a spokesperson for the department said its traffic attendants would not be deterred on law enforcement, with the Department deploying traffic attendants to the town "to carry out their duties in order to complete a review of deployment in Coalisland".

On Friday last the Department announced that following the review, it was decided Coalisland will not have routine Traffic Wardens.

Commented SF Minister Chris Hazzard concluded: Following representations to my Department to commence scheduled parking enforcement in Coalisland, a trial was established to ascertain if scheduled routine enforcement is necessary.

"During the trial, which ran from August to December 2016, two warning notices were issued. This trial has now ended and on the basis of efficient and effective use of resources, Coalisland will not have routine scheduled enforcement.

Lord Morrow has expressed his disappointment at what he described as a U-Turn by the Minister. He added it is ultimately the disabled and vulnerable who would be impacted, as well as those requiring emergency services.

The Dungannon Peer told the Courier: Its is obvious the cancellation of traffic regulation in Coalisland is a politically-motivated decision, coming just as an election is announced.

It is regrettable the Minster, who I commended for his actions in trying to address the problem, has reacted to the dissention in his party s ranks, and notable he managed to do so in the dying days of the current Assembly. A final political act of desperation to assuage elements within his own party.

Sinn Fein never wanted regulations and instead of condemning the recklessness of inconsiderate persons, sought to draw attention to the lack of tickets issued at a time when only warnings were being handed out.

It is ultimately the residents and traders of Coalisland and through traffic , who will be most inconvenienced by this hasty deciosn. Let it not be forgotten, it is the vulnerable, infirm, and disabled who will suffer, as well as those needing emergency services. Any consequences will be a matter for those who caused obstructions and those who endorsed them by their stubborn refusal to comply.

It is ironic only days ago the Minister for Infrastructure announced he was deploying a mobile enforcement team in Belfast to clamp drivers who parked as he put it, disrespectfully something incidentally I asked him to extend to other areas such as Coalisland.

Yet in more or less the same breath he reverses his previous action to try to bring some level of parking regulation to Coalisland, a move aimed at tackling disrespectful persons abandoning their vehicles at will, and to the detriment of others.

It is obvious he came under pressure from his Sinn Fein colleagues and was forced to U-turn. They made no secret of their antipathy for this scheme and their derisory comments against those in favour or who dared speak out, were typical of a party synonymous with howling equality but practicing disparity.

This is a political decision cloaked as an excuse to cut back patrols in areas where few parking tickets have been issued. Coalisland was always going to be a foregone conclusion by the criteria set, as until recently no traffic attendant patrol was granted entry, and we all know how that ended up when they did put in a few brief but memorable appearances.

I continue to await a number of documents requested from the Minister in relation to the experiences endured by the traffic attendants who attempted to place Coalisland on equal footing with other areas.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope no traffic attendants will lose their jobs as a result of this move, or that other areas will not be over-patrolled in an attempt to balance the books.


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