PRIVATE parking wardens could take to the streets of Bournemouth in a bid to raise more money from handing out tickets.

The borough council is poised to outsource its parking enforcement to a contractor which would be expected to bring in more revenue.

But an opposition councillor has warned against a “Stalinist approach” which would “annoy the hell” out of the town’s drivers.

The privatisation is being considered as a way of helping stabilise the council’s income in the face of multi-million pound cuts in government grants.

Parking enforcement could be one of several more services outsourced to contractor Mouchel, which took over four council departments earlier this year.

Conservative council leader Cllr Peter Charon said the parking budget was under pressure as the council sought to encourage alternatives to the car without hitting the local economy.

“Therefore there’s perhaps an alternative, which we are considering, which is to maximise wherever we can our revenue from enforcement,” he said.

Private parking enforcement has proved controversial in some parts of the country, with wardens accused of hovering to hand out tickets the moment a driver outstays their waiting time.

But Cllr Charon said: “As long as the signage and the rules are clear, people transgress at their own risk. Even in London and Westminster, they cannot and do not give you a ticket if you are parked legally.

“If you say ‘Do they hover?’, maybe they do, but the trouble is once you say ‘It was only a minute’, will it become two or three minutes. Where does that line get drawn?”

He said the move could also mean there were enough staff to properly cover parts of town where residents complained the rules were not enforced.

Tony Williams, Mouchel partnership director for Bournemouth, said: “Mouchel works very closely with the council as its transformation partner. We are reviewing how it delivers a number of its services, including parking.”

The council’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Claire Smith said: “I’ve always been told that our parking enforcement officers were firm but fair and I find it very odd that they think that that would be an area to outsource.”

She added: “If somebody’s parking blatantly illegally or dangerously, there should be zero tolerance of that, but there are areas where you can be a little lenient.

“I would hate to see a Stalinist approach which is there to make money and annoy the hell out of the residents of Bournemouth.”

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, said private parking wardens had first been introduced at a time when parking rules were going “largely unenforced”.

“It may not have worked absolutely perfectly and you did get stories of predatory parking attendants. A lot depends on the control the local authority place on them,” he said.

He added: “The advantage is you’re getting somebody outside who’s trying to suit the number of wardens to the number of offences, which is quite often easier for a contractor than it is for the local authority.”

"It won't be like the SS"

“IT definitely won’t be like having the Waffen SS stomp all over the town.”

Those were the words of the council’s then parking manager when the authority took over responsibility for the parking warden service from the police in 2001.

He said at the time: “If we are successful in encouraging people to park legally, then the amount of income that would be generated from the exercise will reduce over the years.”

But outsourcing parking enforcement to the private sector could be a way of making up for fluctuating car park income and the spending cuts imposed on councils by government. Bournemouth’s income from parking tickets was £653,000 in the period from April 2010 to January 2011 – up from £626,00 in the same period the previous year but far short of the £844,000 that had been budgeted.

Income from pay-and-display parking fell from £3.99m to £3.82m in the same period, against a budgeted figure of £4.05milion.