Gareth's got just the ticket
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
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
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
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 didnt want to pay on the Main Street. At
least now the people living on those streets can get
parked outside their
homes with their residents'
permits. If these streets didn't have Pay & Display, the
residents would never get parking outside their own
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
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
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 dont 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
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,