CALLINGTON Town Council is throwing its weight behind a campaign to improve the level of parking control across East and North Cornwall, after claims that just one hour a week is being spent in the town by civil enforcement officers.

Councillors agreed to support a petition by Looe Town Council and this week said that parking enforcement in Callington had 'eroded to virtually zero'.

Once the responsibility of the police, parking enforcement was taken over by the county councils in April 2008.

Now there are just five enforcement officers to cover the whole of North, East and South East Cornwall down to Fowey.

Cllr Jeremy Gist said just a few years ago, there was a full-time traffic warden in the town but now motorists were lucky to see anyone monitoring parking.

Cllr Gist said: 'We had several months without anyone doing the job, but I have been told that officers from the local authority now spend about an hour a week here.

'The chances of getting caught are pretty slim, so people do not bother parking in the car parks, they park on the double yellow lines instead.'

Particular problem spots were the junctions of Fore Street and Church Street, and New Road and Fore Street — but Cllr Gist said people parked anywhere they felt like parking.

'In a relatively short space of time it's gone from a full time job to less than part time.

'Since parking enforcement was taken away from the police it has eroded to virtually zero.

'Year by year our council tax increases but the services we are receiving get less and less. The town council could buy in extra services to monitor the traffic but that would be double taxation.'

Town and Cornwall councillor Andrew Long said sooner or later, an accident would happen in Fore Street, either at the pedestrian crossing as vehicles continued to park on the zigzag lines, or outside the Spar shop, where people parked so close to the junction it made it difficult for people entering and exiting, particularly emergency vehicles.

'We want the return of a traffic warden or civil enforcement officer on a regular basis, not just an ad hoc basis like it is now,' he said.

Mayor of Looe Michael Joy said places like Looe and Callington were not built for the motor car and needed a dedicated officer doing the job of parking control.

'It needs to be seven days a week, 24 hours a day or there is going to be chaos.

'We have problems with the fire engine getting out because the road is blocked, residents going crazy because people are parking on the pavement and mothers with children having to get around these vehicles — anarchy is developing.'

Looe town council's petition has also been supported by Liskeard, Saltash and Fowey and is due to be submitted to Cornwall Council.

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said the authority did not have unlimited resources and therefore enforcement could not take place all day, everyday of the week, in all locations. 

'We are currently in the process of amalgamating the parking operations of the former county and district councils which will lead to a much more efficient and flexible operation,' she said. 

'Part of this process will involve reviewing enforcement levels.  This will take into account feedback received from Cornwall councillors, town and parish councils and the public. 

'The aim is for the fully integrated service to be in place by February 2010.'