After a year of coming to terms with the fact that a lack of traffic wardens doesn’t make it any easier to park in Aberystwyth they are finally back on our streets.
Due to an error of judgement the previous Dyfed Powys police wardens were made redundant due to budget constraints a year before the council was able to take over the enforcement of restrictions in Ceredigion.
The past year has seen cars dumped anywhere and everywhere in the town and this has even reduced parts of the promenade to a single lane at times.
Although parking wardens were recently voted the most hated profession in the UK it seems that the function they perform does have some real value and would have potentially stopped incidents which have occurred since they were dismissed.
Incidents of note have included a HGV damaging buildings whilst turning into Chalybeate Street and avoiding a car parked on double yellows along with another delivery vehicle getting stuck turning into a narrow street after a car was dumped on the corner.
The town has also seen delivery drivers stopping in the middle of the road to unload as loading bays have been taken, and even drivers pushing and shoving one another over parking disagreements which have brought out their ugly sides.
Many drivers have also taken to parking in disabled bays which whether they are being patrolled or not is just plain wrong. Disabled bays have been put in place to allow someone with reduced levels of mobility the additional space to get in and out of their vehicle, whilst also putting them closer to key amenities. The idea that people would take advantage of something that has been put in place to make the lives of citizens more vulnerable than themselves in deplorable.
Six new full time wardens will patrol towns and villages in the county after the year long delay caused by the need for the council to submit an application to create a parking enforcement area to the Welsh Assembly Government. All monies made from parking fines will be retained by the council.
I am also more open to the return of the wardens as my new home has a driveway. This however highlights the issue which the council has failed to address which is that Aberystwyth lacks any significant volume of free or affordable parking.
In a town which is consistently packed to the rafters during the Spring and Summer holiday seasons we are heading back down the road from which we once came. Prior to wardens being removed from duty many residents and visitors in the town struggled to find a parking space, and the problem was further exacibated by need to charge for the once free park and ride service on Park Avenue.
The question is when and how are the council going to address the real issue? The small car park at Bath Street was recently earmarked for development which will actually see parking provision in the town centre reduced whilst residents on streets such as Dan Y Coed have to put up with end to end cars every day of the week in front of their homes.
Cities such as Chester and Liverpool have ample parking provision for visitors. However the problem that these areas face is the price. In Chester you can pay over £5 for a stay of less than three hours and any future solutions must encompass both volume and affordability so as not to put people off visiting Aberystwyth or simply driving them into town to park on yellow lines and in loading bays as has been the case for the past year.