Firms bemused as 'over-zealous' traffic wardens up for award
BUSINESSES in Derby have been left bemused that the city's traffic wardens have been nominated for a customer service award.
Traders says parking enforcement officers are driving shoppers away and making life difficult.
Despite the criticism, wardens are in the running for the Parking Team of the Year title at this year's British Parking Awards.
Derby City Council says the award recognises "a commitment to positive change in both on and off-street parking" and "outstanding customer service and consistent use of good practice".
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City traders, however, have long complained of what they feel to be over-zealous parking enforcement.
Julie Ellis-Walford, who runs lingerie shop Can Can, in The Strand, said: "I'm not sure that an award is at all appropriate.
"While some of the traffic wardens are very pleasant, there are many who have no customer service skills at all, look scruffy, are miserable and are scaring people off."
The parking enforcement regime was one of the main reasons gun shop The Countryman cited for its move from Queen Street to Prime Enterprise Park.
Owner Martyn Bray said: "The attitude of some of the traffic wardens was very definitely damaging business and discouraging customers. They are driving people to out-of-town retail parks."
The awards entry submitted by the city council runs to 28 pages. It highlights reacting to complaints about drivers parking near dropped kerbs, dealing with complaints quickly, pursuing debtors, advising disabled drivers and clamping down on counterfeit blue badges.
Michael Hall, who owns a jewellery business in Cheapside, said: "I'm astonished that they are in line for a customer service award unless the customer in question is the council itself which is benefiting from the revenue from parking fines.
"They hound drivers and regard them as targets rather than customers."
Councillor Ranjit Banwait, cabinet member for street pride and neighbourhoods, said: "Criticism of council employees in the parking services team is unjustified. A big priority at the moment is standing up for our workers. Entering the British Parking Awards is about motivating them to do a very difficult and demanding job."
The awards are at London's Lancaster Hotel, on Friday, March 8. The cost for shortlisted entrants is £1,500 plus VAT for a table of 12 or £135 plus VAT for individuals.