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Gareth's got just the ticket in Buncrana 15.01.08

TAKING up a new job is challenging for most people but rarely do new employees also have to cope with the fact they're not really wanted.
Meet Gareth Wilson, traffic warden in Buncrana and the man drivers love to hate.
Well, that's the perception anyway. The truth, in fact, is altogether different.
"I think the new system is going fantastic. Ninety-nine per cent of people in Buncrana are quite happy with it and are respecting the charges," he says.
He does, however, admit he can be at the receiving end of "plenty of cheek" from a minority of motorists and, surprisingly, a few non-driving youngsters.
"During the snow recently, the van was bombarded with quite a lot of snowballs,"
he laughs. "And I must admit, there can be plenty of cheek thrown at you, but the majority of people are very obliging and appreciate you're only doing your job."
Gareth, 42, is originally from Ballybrack, Greencastle, and is no stranger to a uniform being a former fire-fighter with the Irish Air Corps Search and Rescue Division at Finner Camp in Bundoran.
The father-of-four started his controversial new full-time job in Buncrana in November along with his female colleague Jackie McCrudden, who hails from Newtowncunningham. The two, who started their new jobs amid the glare of local media coverage, do alternating shifts to ensure the seaside town's on-street parking zones are patrolled from Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 6pm.
One of the most divisive elements of the new arrangements is the on-street parking in residential areas such as Mill Brae, Rockfield Terrace and St. Columba's Avenue. But Gareth Wilson is adamant that charging on these streets was the only way of making sure they weren't besieged by an overflow of motorists looking for free parking.
"If we hadn't put in the Pay & Display charges on streets such as Mill Brae and St. Columba's Avenue, these streets would be choc-a-bloc every day with drivers who didn’t want to pay on the Main Street. At least now the people living on those streets can get parked outside their
Gareth Wilson, one of the two new traffic wardens in Buncrana.
homes with their residents' permits. If these streets didn't have Pay & Display, the residents would never get parking outside their own homes.
As for the statistics to date, there have been around 200 on-the-spot fines issued since the start of the new year, he explains. Before Christmas, there were 2,500 warnings issued to illegally-parked motorists, in lieu of fines. This was to give drivers a fair run-in time to adjust to the new charges.
"Before Christmas the majority of warning tickets were issued to cars illegally parked in disabled spaces or on double yellow lines," he said.
"Since we started issuing the actual fines in the new year, around 60% of them have been for not paying and displaying."
Motorists in Buncrana have to pay 50c per hour with a maximum stay of two hours on the Main Street and all other streets. They pay 30c per hour in the St. Mary's Road and Nailor's Row car parks or €1.20 for the day. Monthly passes cost €20; six monthly, €100; and yearly, €190, for car parks only.
Parking in disabled bays is subject to an automatic on-the-spot fine of €80 in Buncrana. The new traffic wardens are determined to clamp down on this particularly inconsiderate offence.
Gareth would also like drivers to know there's no point trying to persuade him or his colleague to take back a ticket once it's been issued.
"Once I've issued the ticket, it goes straight through to the computer in the County House in Lifford. No amount of pleading will change that as it cannot be revoked."
Part of the traffic warden's kit is a hand-held computer and a small digital camera.
"Once Jackie or I issue the fine, we take a photograph of the vehicle complete with fine attached. This image is taken so people cannot use the excuse that they didn't get a ticket and didn't commit the offence.” When a parking ticket is issued, people have 28 days to pay the €40 fine and if they don't pay on time, the fine goes up by 50% to €60. If they don’t pay that, they may be prosecuted and taken to court.
Meanwhile, Gareth admits that regulating parking in Buncrana can be a cold job - whether it's cold shoulders or the cold weather he has to deal with.
"The last while has been very cold. You have to have the thermal insoles in your shoes and leggings on a wet day. But we have a van and that's a great help in very bad weather."
Despite its few downsides the affable warden says he's enjoying the job a great deal. "I love it and while you do have to put up with a fair bit of cheek from some people, the majority are great and there's plenty of banter with local people during the day. I must say, for the most part, being a traffic warden in Buncrana is great craic." To read another story in relation to parking in Buncrana, click here
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