Warden lay-off sparks traffic chaos

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The Independent Online

A quiet seaside town is rivalling London in the road rage stakes after the lay-off of its team of traffic wardens sparked parking pandemonium.

Risk-free illegal parking might sound like paradise to most drivers but the reality has been chaos in Aberystwyth.

The free-for-all has already seen at least one fist fight break out between two enraged drivers in the mid Wales seaside town.

Widespread illegal parking on yellow lines, junctions and disabled zones has made town roads impassable.

Heated scenes and incensed drivers hooting their car horns in frustration have become commonplace in the last week.

Angry business bosses in the town warned today that the chaos will only get worse. They accused the police and Ceredigion County Council of causing the "cock-up".

The usually peaceful university town is one of the last in the UK to phase out old-style traffic wardens employed by the police.

The council will step in and use its new civil parking powers to directly employ parking attendants, but authority chiefs estimate that it will take about a year.

In the meantime an official warning that drivers have a duty under the Highway Code to park sensibly is falling on deaf ears.

"It's only a week since the wardens were laid off and Aberystwyth is in chaos, and things can only get worse," said Chris Mackenzie-Grieve, chairman of Aberystwyth Chamber of Commerce.

"June is actually a quiet period here. Students have gone home until September, so their cars are not here, and it's too early for summer visitors."

Mr Mackenzie-Grieve accused the council of failing to act swiftly enough to take over from the police, but he added that both sides were to blame for the situation for failing to work closely enough.

"The council are losing out because people are not using their car parks and the police have created more work for themselves. It's a complete cock-up."

A spokesman for the council said: "Within Ceredigion, until the responsibility and legal powers are transferred to Ceredigion County Council, the Dyfed-Powys Constabulary remains to be the authority responsible for enforcing traffic regulation orders.

"All such orders have been provided in the interest of road safety for all road users and to ensure the free flow of traffic.

"As stated in the Highway Code (Rules 238 to 252), it is the responsibility of all motorists to park sensibly and, where issues arise, the police should be contacted to take any necessary enforcement action."