Police in Elgin have admitted they “don’t have the answer” to solve the town centre’s illegal parking headache.
Concerns have grown in recent years about the number of drivers ignoring rules to drive and park their car wherever they want.
Many have called for police to simply enforce the existing regulations with fines. Another suggestion is for traffic wardens to be reintroduced to act as a deterrent.
Police are currently the only people able to issue penalties for those flouting the rules.
However, a senior officer says their lack of resources in Elgin mean they have to deal with more urgent calls than High Street parking complaints.
Police can only provide ‘sporadic’ response to parking
Nearly 100 people attended a public meeting this week organised by Elgin Community Council. The aim was to debate potential solutions to the parking conundrum.
During the talks, Inspector Neil Morrison from the town’s community policing team said the topic was “one of the main issues” he receives complaints about.
However, he said police had to make “hard decisions” about where they put their limited resources to tackle national priorities, which don’t include parking.
Insp Morrison said: “We triage calls that come into us based on the threat, harm and risk. Unfortunately most calls will have more threat, harm or risk than parking.
“I could tell my teams to go out to the High Street and issue parking tickets, but they could be out there for five minutes and be called to something else.
“We can only give a sporadic response but not a consistent response to really deal with the issue.”
Insp Morrison stressed officers would continue to issue tickets when they are able to but they had to prioritise calls about people at risk of harm and missing persons.
He added: “Police don’t have the answer to the parking issues in Elgin.”
‘People want their streets back’
Common parking complaints reported in Elgin town centre include cars parking on double yellow lines. Vehicles are also parking on pavements and disabled bays are being misused.
Frequent sightings are also made of cars ignoring the 11am to 4pm ban on entering the Plainstones.
Warnings have been issued by Elgin Bid that lives are being put at risk by drivers ignoring restrictions on the High Street, Batchen Street, South Street and Commerce Street.
Police are currently the only organisation able to enforce the rules by issuing fines.
Decriminalising traffic restrictions to allow Moray Council or another group to enforce the rules could rack up £500,000 in court costs.
Elgin Community Council has called for action to be taken to address the parking complaints.
Chairman Alistair Kennedy said: “We’re not too precious about what needs done, we just know something needs to happen.
“We believe people want their streets back.”