This morning I have been spending some time around the town with the supervisor of the traffic wardens who work in Launceston.
Since the signs and lines have been fixed, the civil enforcement officers have been able to do their bit to make the traffic flow as freely as possible. This includes making sure that people don't park in loading bays, that they don't overstay in the limited time parking bays and, of course, that they don't park on yellow lines.
Since April 1st, the officers have also had responsibility for our car parks - including coping with the RingGo system.
The biggest challenge that the officers face is that they are very limited in their numbers. There are currently just five enforcement officers for the former NCDC area - and holidays and sickness can mean even fewer on the streets. The good news is that new officers have just been recruited and there should be a team of ten on North Cornwall streets within a short time.
Whilst we were touring the town we saw some of the officers handing out tickets, as well as taking numbers to ensure people didn't overstay and talking to drivers who wanted to know whether they were parking legally.
Among the tickets handed out were two for people parking in loading bays. Whilst people with disabled (blue) badges can park on some yellow lines, they cannot park in loading bays and one car was tickets for that reason. Another car was simply parked in the loading bay whilst the driver went shopping. They got a ticket and decided to give some pretty childish verbal abuse to the officer when they returned.
I asked about the level of abuse that the enforcement officers are subject to. It was good, if a little surprising, to hear that abuse is relatively infrequent. There is the odd bit of non-threatening verbal abuse (such as I witnessed) and officers are told simply to ignore this. If they are threateningly abused, or if physical violence is threatened, then they are told to leave the area as quickly as possible and report the incident to their supervisor and, if warranted, to the Police.
However, if a driver wants to question why they were ticketed, and they are not abusive or threatening, then the officers are expected to explain the reasons for the ticket as well as explain the ways to pay and the right to appeal.
I'm glad that it now seems that Launceston is getting the parking enforcement support it needs and deserves. Many thanks to the officer who took me around town and to his team.