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City taking legal advice over paying back almost $200,000 in parking fines

Parking Enforcement Officer Earl Basden on Church Street. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Parking enforcement is being carried out by a City of Hamilton team again after a five-month hiatus.

The officers were among five staff hired last August but stopped issuing tickets in November until legislation was changed.

A city spokeswoman said last week that the corporation was taking legal advice on whether anyone who paid fines earlier could appeal or get their money back.

She explained: “The City of Hamilton has re-engaged the services of their parking enforcement officers and as of April 7, 2022, they are now fully active in the City of Hamilton.

“The city has four parking enforcement officers who were employed in August of last year to assist with ensuring equal parking and vehicular access opportunities across Hamilton.

“Previously, such enforcement was carried out by traffic wardens via the Bermuda Police Service.

“Members of the public should note that these PEOs have been lawfully granted the power to issue tickets.”

The Ministry of Public Works ordered a stand-down of PEOs last November so legislation could be amended.

The city spokeswoman said that the officers performed “alternate duties” after they stopped handing out tickets.

She added that one of the five had taken up a different job.

The Municipalities Amendment Act (No 2) 2022, that allowed for the appointment of parking enforcement officers in Hamilton and St George’s, was passed last month.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, said then: “This Bill will give the PEOs similar powers as traffic wardens in the Corporation of Hamilton and will permit the Corporation of St George to implement a similar parking enforcement regime.

“The revenue generated from issuing tickets will go to the respective corporation.”

Colonel Burch said that PEOs in Hamilton had issued 2,700 tickets and generated $195,950 during the short period they had operated.

The Royal Gazette asked whether people could appeal or get their money back if they paid parking tickets issued before the legislative amendment was made.

The city spokeswoman said: “We’re taking that matter under advisement from the Bermuda Government as well as from our legal representatives.”

Dwayne Caines, the city’s chief executive officer, said last week: “At the City of Hamilton, we set the parking rules, so it just made sense for us to enforce them.

“The PEOs will ensure that everyone has good access to parking in the City.

“It’s a small city – everyone is competing for space – so we want to ensure that parking bays turn over as they should and that specially designated bays such as loading zones, city resident parking, disabled parking, taxi parking and one-hour parking are used for the functions and populations for which they were intended.

“The idea is not to ticket people indiscriminately; we want to use the visibility of these officers to change people’s behaviours and dissuade bad parking habits.”

He added: “The officers are not here to be punitive but, rather, to make the public aware of any bad parking practices and to enforce parking in the city. For example, if there is someone double parked in the street and still in their vehicle, officers will simply ask them to move along.

“They will only write a ticket if that individual does not move after being told to do so.

“Also, if signs or road markings are not clear, they will not issue tickets.”

The officers are expected to be in regular communication with businesses about any parking challenges they might have.

The city spokeswoman added: “As a reminder to the public, all vehicles – including motorcycles – are not allowed to park on the sidewalks.

“This means that cleaning companies, construction companies and security companies are not permitted to park on the sidewalks.

“The officers can be identified by their blue City of Hamilton uniforms.”

* For more information visit the City’s website.

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Published April 11, 2022 at 8:04 am (Updated April 11, 2022 at 8:05 am)

City taking legal advice over paying back almost $200,000 in parking fines

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