engines idling, fumes, pic under creative commons licence

Cheshire East is to consider whether it should adopt new legal powers to fine drivers for leaving their engines running while vehicles are parked, writes Belinda Ryan.

The council’s highways and transport committee narrowly voted in favour of asking for a feasibility study to be undertaken into engine idling and enforcement.

Cllr Les Gilbert (Dane Valley, Con) first brought the matter forward at December’s meeting of the full council after learning Central Bedfordshire Council had adopted the powers.

He told a highways meeting this week: “It seems to me we’re all interested in air quality and tackling climate change.

“Surely it follows that we should make the decision as to whether such a scheme is appropriate for Cheshire East based, of course, on an officer report setting out the pros and cons and drawing on the experience of other councils.

“It may be we decide it isn’t the right thing to do, but the principle here is members should have the opportunity to debate and decide.”

Richard Hibbert, the council’s head of strategic transport and parking, said he had looked at the scheme in Central Bedfordshire and penalty clauses are used as a last resort – education and advice should come first.

He told the committee the fine is £20 in the first instance.

“If we were to go forward with this, my advice would be to consider the need for a thorough feasibility and business case before seeking to take on the regulatory power,” said Mr Hibbert.

Conservative group leader Janet Clowes (Wybunbury) said she had received an email two days before about engine idling.

“The concern of this particular resident was around schools and how even relatively low air quality issues can still have quite a big impact on young lungs,” she said.

“A well thought out business case focusing on specific problem areas, not a blanket approach across the whole of the borough, might bring forward real benefits for some of our air quality areas.”

Cllr Laura Crane (Ettiley Heath & Wheelock, Lab) said while she agreed with the principle of the proposal, enforcement would be an issue.

She said parents still parked on double yellow lines near schools on the days the enforcement officers weren’t there, even though they knew this posed a risk to their children and others.

“I think an education programme is the way forward, reminding people about the duty of care they have to their fellow residents,” said Cllr Crane.

Committee chair Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) said while he fully supported the principle “if it’s going to be enforced properly, potentially there’s a massive resource implication for the council and we’re going to need to put enforcement officers outside each and every primary school”.

But Cllr Gilbert persisted and said residents would expect the council to give this matter due consideration.

And if there was a good reason why this couldn’t be done “we can at least explain why we’re not doing anything as opposed to be appearing to do nothing”.

The vote was six to five in favour of carrying out a feasibility study, with a report to be brought back to a future meeting to be considered. One councillor abstained.

(Image under creative commons licence, by Ruben de Rijcke)

One Comment

  1. Of all the things that Cheshire East Council should be debating, spending money pontificting upon or enacting this should be VERY low down the list of priorities. Actually doing the basics like sweeping the streets, fixing potholes and providing basic services – how about those for a start? I despair.

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