Police traffic wardens could be replaced by council staff on streets across Argyll and Bute.
With Strathclyde Police having withdrawn its traffic warden service in 2011, councillors next week will be asked to take the first steps towards Decriminalised Parking Enforcement.
The new system could not come into force until 2014, when enforcement powers would be transferred from the police to the council.
Next year the police and council would tackle the job jointly as an interim measure, following a pilot project in the Oban area last month which saw 176 fixed penalty notices issued and ‘a sharp rise’ in car parking income – more than double the total for August 2011.
The full meeting of Argyll and Bute Council on Thursday will be asked to give the go-ahead for an implementation plan to be drawn up; although the process is irreversible, officials say the business case is clear.
The authority would not be the first to introduce this system – after East Ayrshire Council made the move in July, shoppers and retailers were reported as saying the council wardens were ‘ticket happy’.
Once DPE is introduced the police would have no role in enforcing parking restrictions and fines issued by parking attendants would be civil debts rather being under criminal law.
With the traffic warden service having being cut by police as an ‘efficiency saving’, officers are still responsible for dealing with parking offences but can only do this when other duties permit.
Before Argyll and Bute introduces the scheme it plans investment in car parks and lining on roads, and a report to councillors says car parking policy would be made consistent across all the council area.
Tenders would be issued for back office support and a management system, with a parking manager being appointed.
The report adds: “A DPE scheme is able to improve the management of parking, provide better availability of spaces, improve pedestrian safety, improve access for those with mobility problems… and promote a safer and more pleasant town centre environment.”
It lists advantages including the council being able to prioritise particular area, removal of congestion and retention of the income from fines.
But disadvantages would include the permanent obligation to the council: “Once decriminalised, the council has to make the system work.”
The system is already being used by councils including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.