Calls for stronger enforcement on vehicle idling — particularly outside schools and health centres — are being made by Glasgow councillors.

Cllr Angus Millar,  the city’s convener for climate and transport, said “soft touch” government regulations are limiting the council’s ability to “affect the behavioural change we all want to see”.

Current fines for idling offences are “just £20”, he said, and enforcement officers must initially have a “gentle chat” with motorists.

“Vehicle engine idling represents a serious threat to air quality and to public health in our city,” the SNP councillor added.

He was responding to a question by Cllr Lana Reid-McConnell, Greens, who wants to see the Scottish Government strengthen guidance on idling, especially outside schools, care homes and healthcare centres.

She also called for more to be done to raise awareness of the “damaging health implications”. “The severity of idling can be quite extreme and concentrated in some areas,” Cllr Reid-McConnell said.

Cllr Millar said he had written to former transport minister Kevin Stewart, SNP, to set out his views on “how idling enforcement can be strengthened to better support local authorities”.

He expressed his concern that “present enforcement tools” are “not sufficient”.  Existing Scottish Government guidance “going back decades suggests the issuing of fixed penalty notices (FPN) for vehicle idling offences should be a last resort”, Cllr Millar said, with a “soft touch approach mandating engagement and a request to stop”.

Officers can take action “only if they [motorists] refuse or are soon after caught re-offending”.  “I think we all agree that an element of awareness raising and education is absolutely necessary and desirable and that we need to make sure that people are aware of the dangers of idling and their responsibilities under the law,” the transport convener added.

“But it is certainly clear to me that the current soft touch approach to idling enforcement mandated by the national government regulations is limiting our ability to affect the behavioural change that we all want to see.”

In his letter, he requested a review of the guidance, an expansion of who can issue idling FPNs to include parking attendants and an increase in fines, as the current £20 level was set in 2003 and has not kept pace with inflation.

He said the former minister told him the Scottish Government had “no plans to change the regulations” but he has “continued to pursue” the issue with new transport minister Fiona Hyslop.

Cllr Millar said he had secured a discussion on the issue at a meeting of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) environment and economy board.

He will seek to “work with other local authorities, supporting calls for strengthening enforcement action”.