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Offline coco

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Transport Select Committee
« on: 23 April, 2013, 12:53:48 PM »
Last month we submitted evidence for consideration by the Transport Select Committee. I have now reveived an e-mail from the Committee which states:

" . . . Thank you for your contribution to the Transport Committee’s inquiry – Local Authority Parking Enforcement. Your submission has now been formally accepted as evidence which the Committee may wish to print, publish on the Internet, or make available for public inspection in the Parliamentary Archives . . . "

Here is the full version of our submission:-

Notomob
Campaign Against Revenue Driven Enforcement

1.         The Notomob (www.notomob.co.uk) was formed in July 2010 in response to the Prime Minister’s speech of May 2010 in which he invited the public to become armchair auditors to make local and central government accountable and to take part in his “Big Society” vision. The Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles repeated the invitation in October 2010 and extended the remit, stating he wanted the public to use the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Audit Commission Act 1998 to make local government accountable. The Notomob has accepted these invitations and continues to do so. Since mid-2010 its members have had extensive contact with the members of the public, Enforcement Authorities and enforcement company personnel.  The following reflect the views of the Notomob, based upon contact with these groups.

“The Committee would like to hear views on the adequacy of current arrangements for parking enforcement and the likely consequences of Government policy in this area.”

2.         The current arrangements for parking enforcement are inadequate and the consequences of government policy in this area are that the reputations of both government and local authorities involved are being severely damaged. Public confidence in local authority integrity has already been undermined in the area of parking and for many authorities their reputation has been irreparably damaged. When parking was de-criminalised under the provisions of the road traffic act 1991, the authors of the act would have done well to heed the warning to beware of unintended consequences. The greed of both local authorities and the companies that mushroomed following the act were perfectly foreseeable.

3.         In 2010 the Transport Secretary, Mr Hammond promised: “We will end the war on motorists”. In March 2013, the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at British Parking Association Ltd, Mr Kelvin Reynolds called for a “war on the non-compliant motorists”. The public perception is very much that a war is still being waged against motorists. Not so much by Government, but by Local Authorities and certainly by their sub-contractors, the enforcement companies. The companies in particular seem to take singular pride in developing ever more devious ways of separating motorists from their money.

4.         Motorists are also increasingly irritated by the disproportionate penalties imposed for parking infringements compared with other motoring offences. An example of disproportionality is that a relatively minor parking offence in London can incur a penalty charge of £130 whereas a speeding offence can cost less than half that amount. Yet which of the two offences carries the greater potential risk to other road users? There should be national set rates for civil parking enforcement as there are for criminal traffic enforcement. Regional variations are unjust and disproportionate. A civil parking offence in Manchester is either £50 or £70 depending on the offence yet the same offence in London is £80 or £130. This is completely unjust and an offence should result in the same penalty regardless of where it occurred. We ask the Select Committee, in the interests of justice, to consider this. A speeding offence, dealt with by means of a fixed penalty, in London or Manchester attracts an identical penalty. The same should apply to parking penalties. The argument deployed by local authorities that it costs more for enforcement in London could equally apply to speeding but these offences attract the same penalty regardless of the offence location. This disparity is unjust and it is suggested that a fair and proportional national rate, be set for each of lesser and more serious offences.   

5.         Furthermore, Local Authorities encourage their contractors to issue PCNs by setting targets and including performance bonus payments in their contracts. This has been seen in contracts obtained by Freedom of Information requests and by inspection of accounts under section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998. Contractors also encourage their enforcement officers to issue penalty charge notices - even when they know that they are unenforceable - because both the company and the Council know that many will be paid without challenge by the unaware motorist.

6.         There are two measures that Government can take that will help to redress the balance.
a.         The first is to outlaw the practice of allowing Enforcement Authorities to offer an “early payment discount”. This practice is tantamount to bullying the motorist into admitting an offence that might well not have occurred. There have been innumerable cases where people have admitted to paying a reduced sum because they could not afford the “doubled” penalty. This is denying justice to such people and is morally wrong.
b.         The second is to ensure that all receipts from PCNs are paid to the Treasury in exactly the same way as fines for speeding offences. This will disincentivise Authorities from seeking to profit from their enforcement activities in order to subsidise other services. This will create a more fair and proportionate parking enforcement regime. Traffic management will become a non-revenue service much like other services that authorities have a duty to provide such as refuse collection or education. This will enable authorities to concentrate their objectives on congestion and safety without the distraction (or temptation) of revenue generation.

How should councils use their revenue from penalty charges, metered parking, car parks and residents’ parking?
 
7.         Councils should be permitted to spend revenue from metered parking, car parks and residents’ parking on maintenance of roads and car parks only. Revenue from penalty charges should be remitted to the Treasury (see above).
 
Should there be more local discretion over how income is used?
 
8.         Absolutely not. There is strong anecdotal evidence that a number of Local Authorities already view income from parking charges and penalties as an easy way to supplement their budgets and to allow them to use these income streams for other purposes would only serve to incentivise them further into adopting ever more draconian enforcement regimes.
 
What impact will new technology, such as cashless parking, parking sensors and CCTV, have on local authority parking enforcement?
 

9.         Cashless parking already discriminates against certain parts of society because it relies upon the flawed assumption that every user of a parking space holds or has access to a debit or credit card and a mobile telephone. The architects of cashless parking schemes appear to be unaware that it is unlawful for a person under the age of 18 years to hold a debit or credit card. Furthermore there is no requirement in law for any road user to own or have access to a mobile telephone.
 
10.       Mobile CCTV equipment has one purpose and one purpose only. That is revenue generation for both the Enforcement Authority and its sub-contractors. The equipment is indiscriminate, open to abuse by its operators and makes no contribution whatsoever to road safety or to congestion reduction. A vehicle photographed on, e.g. zig-zag lines outside a school will remain there creating a hazard until the keeper chooses to remove it; the issue of a penalty does nothing to remove the hazard. Similarly a vehicle stopped on double yellow lines in a busy narrow high-street will continue to be an obstruction until the keeper chooses to remove it. In each of these cases the presence of a Civil Enforcement Officer is likely to effect the removal of the hazard or obstruction much more quickly thereby creating a far safer environment.
 
11.       The aggressive marketing of mobile CCTV units has led to their widespread use by local authorities. How long will it be before a mobile CCTV operator sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle actually films a child being run over outside a school when they could have got out and moved on an obstructing vehicle? There is strong evidence that these vehicles offer poor value for money and are less efficient than foot or moped mounted CEOs.
 
12.       There is also an environmental penalty in the use of these vehicles. In order to power the on-board equipment the engines have been seen to run continually, pumping out large volumes of pollutants during each shift. This is a particular concern in London which is already under the threat of sanction by the EU Commission over pollution levels. Furthermore there are 30 of these vehicles in local authority use within 4 miles of the Houses of Parliament. Legislation should be enacted to ban the use of these mobile enforcement vehicles. Failing that, statutory guidance on their use should be issued under Section 87 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.
 
13.       The Notomob has observed a significant increase in the number of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipped mobile enforcement vehicles in use by local authorities in pursuit of their objective to issue ever more PCNs. The use of ANPR in the pursuit of crime and disorder is legitimate but its use for parking enforcement is not and it raises disturbing civil liberties issues. Motorists generally accept that if they park where they should not they risk being issued with a PCN by a CEO. However, in recent years there has been an explosion in the number of parking PCNs issued by means of both fixed and mobile CCTV in contravention of the guidance published by the Government under section 87 of the TMA 2004. The delay in issuing PCNs by post has resulted in many motorists receiving multiple penalties for contraventions at a single location. The first indication of the offences the motorist has is often multiple PCNs arriving at the same time. Local authorities defend the practice by stating that the motorist can appeal all but the first offence. But the authorities are acting unlawfully to issue the subsequent PCNs and again the motorist, frequently ignorant about this, simply pays up. There is evidence that the increasing reliance on fixed and mobile CCTV has resulted in the indiscriminate issue of unlawful PCNs.  Frequently these are disabled badge holders whose badges, despite being correctly displayed, are not identified by the CCTV equipment. Here too the authorities claim that they will allow an appeal (though some have adopted a policy of rejecting all appeals). The onus should not be on an innocent person to appeal a PCN that has been issued unlawfully. Sadly this practice continues on a daily basis.
 
How effective are the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for England and Wales and the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service for London?
 
14.       The Traffic Penalties Tribunal appears to provide an effective arena in which an individual may challenge a penalty notice. The adjudicators seem to be genuinely impartial and to apply the law even-handedly.
 
15.       There are, however, serious doubts about the impartiality of the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (and its associated body, Parking on Private Land Appeals). PATAS adjudicators have also been spectacularly inconsistent in their determinations – it is not unknown for the same adjudicator to deliver opposing decisions in identical cases.

Should parking policy in London be subject to separate provisions and guidance, given, in particular, its large parking revenue surpluses, its more integrated public transport network and the number of foreign-registered vehicles in the city?
 
16.       London should not be subjected to separate provisions and guidance. London is neither an independent state nor a principality. There is a potentially valuable saving to be made by merging TPT and PATAS. This would also lead to greater consistency in the adjudication of parking appeals across the whole of England and Wales. The current arrangements have already created the ridiculous situation whereby a motorist in England and Wales might commit a criminal offence (leading to a fine, points on his driving license and a criminal record) for a moving traffic violation whereas in London the  exact same offence is treated as a civil matter (which incurs a financial penalty only). Consistency across the board should be the objective in the interests of justice. If, as reported, the Government is considering extending the power to enforce moving traffic violations to authorities outside London then there is an even stronger case for a single adjudication service.
 
17.       We have seen little integration of the transport network in London. An example of this lack of integration is the use of Bus Lanes by motorcyclists. At present they are permitted to use Transport for London’s Red Route Bus Lanes; they are also permitted to use Bus Lanes in some Boroughs but are prohibited in others. The result of this is that a rider travelling across London may find themselves dodging into and out of Bus Lanes depending on which Borough they happen to be in and continually having to study carefully every single Bus Lane sign – hardly a contribution to road safety given the plethora of such signs. This is further evidence of the need for a unified national policy on transport and parking not one policy for London Boroughs and another for elsewhere. (London Boroughs on their own already have inconsistent policies.)
 
18.       Furthermore London Councils, after the introduction of the Freedoms Bill 2012, has taken upon itself to set up a contract with the British Parking Association Limited for the provision of an appeals service for Parking On Private Land (POPLA) for England and Wales. Local authorities should not be involved with setting up services for the private parking industry. It is ironic that London Councils have set up a service for the whole of England and Wales but not a separate one for London.
 
19.       With reference to the large parking revenue surpluses from enforcement, these should not be retained by local authorities and should, as mentioned before, go to the Treasury. The fact that there may be more foreign registered vehicles in London is irrelevant to parking policy; agreements need to be put in place with foreign governments to be able to enforce these vehicles.
 
How can local authorities strike a balance between using parking policy to manage congestion and using it to encourage people into town centres?
 
20.       Parking policy on its own can only ever be one strand in the management of congestion since it only deals with obstruction by stationary vehicles. A more holistic approach needs to be adopted to ensure the smooth flow of traffic through an urban environment. If authorities adopted a policy of using more foot CEOs or moped CEOs rather than relying on the indiscriminate use of mobile CCTV, discretionary enforcement could be used to encourage more people into town centres. The overall cost of foot patrols or moped CEOs is far less than running a mobile CCTV operation and creates employment.
 
How can smaller local authorities use parking provision to manage congestion? Do they need to work regionally and strategically with neighbouring councils?
 

21.       All authorities can use parking provision to manage congestion by creating more spaces for less congesting forms of transport such as bicycles and powered two wheelers. 
 
22.       In order to achieve greater consistency, parking should be considered as part of an overall traffic management provision and this should be developed at County or regional level.

What role does the workplace parking levy have?
 
23.       None whatsoever. This is merely another way of enabling an Enforcement Authority to raise revenue by taxing motorists. The Levy takes no account of the needs of individual businesses and the way they work. Shift workers who need to travel when no other transport is available can be unfairly penalised.
 
Would people be more inclined to use park and ride services if there were a charge to park at work?
 
24.       Possibly, but great care needs to be taken in designing a Parking Levy scheme to ensure that Park and Ride services are available at all times when workers need to travel. The needs and working practices of every business to be affected must be taken into consideration. The park and ride facilities must also be designed in such a way that they are available at all times. The pedestrian routes to and from transport terminals and the terminals themselves must be safe for potentially vulnerable users.
 
Are parking signs clear and comprehensible? To what extent are unclear signs and instructions the cause of breaches of parking control?
 
25.       The parking signs defined in the TSRDG are clear and comprehensible but the way they are deployed by local authorities frequently render them useless.  There is strong anecdotal evidence that Enforcement Authorities and their sub-contractors exploit unclear signage in order to maximise revenue.
 
26.       One example of a local authority getting it wrong is the case of the bus lane at Moor End Road in Hemel Hempstead. Concerns regarding the signage and traffic management order (TMO) were expressed by the NoToMob to the enforcement authority some five weeks after enforcement commenced. These concerns were dismissed out of hand by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC). Nine months later an appeal case brought at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal resulted in HCC ceasing enforcement and only after the council was notified by the Notomob that an objection to the accounts under the Audit Commission Act 1998 would be brought did the local authority offer to pay back all the unlawfully derived £1.3million income from this enforcement.
 
27.       One way to get local authorities to address the issue of poor signage is for the Department of Transport to set up a body to oversee complaints about non-compliant local authority signs and TMOs and that it be given powers in legislation to fine local authorities if their signage and TMOs are non-compliant just as a local authority does to a motorist that is non-compliant. Or is it one rule for local authorities and another for the motorist?
 
28.       The Notomob has purposely kept its submission short so as not to overburden the Committee with excessive volumes of data. However, anecdotal or hard-copy evidence are available to support all assertions made above. This evidence will be supplied in the event that the Committee requests elaboration on any of these points.

Offline booksearch

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #1 on: 23 April, 2013, 03:02:01 PM »
Whoever is responsible for writing this extremely clear and powerful document deserves a pat on the back - excellent in all respects!!

Offline Staps

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #2 on: 23 April, 2013, 06:30:16 PM »
Thought there might be a line that not only penalises the LA If their signs are wrong but compensates the motorist who has had to jump through hoops because he has been wrongly targeted.

Offline Kill Switch

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #3 on: 23 April, 2013, 06:51:54 PM »
Whoever is responsible for writing this extremely clear and powerful document deserves a pat on the back - excellent in all respects!!

Ditto  :aplude: :aplude:
A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice


Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #4 on: 23 April, 2013, 07:29:12 PM »
Whoever is responsible for writing this extremely clear and powerful document deserves a pat on the back - excellent in all respects!!

I agree wholeheartedly with you booksearch. And I'm not saying that because I wrote it, because I didn't. ;D

However, no one could have written it without evidence to back it up, and therefore there are others who have contributed either directly or indirectly to its production, who also deserve a pat on the back. :aplude: :aplude: :aplude: :aplude: :aplude:


WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline BGB

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #5 on: 23 April, 2013, 09:36:03 PM »
^^^^^^^^^^^

What they all said.

^^^^^^^^^^^

Offline Pat Pending

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #6 on: 23 April, 2013, 10:06:28 PM »
This a real pleasure to read and just so morally correct and brimming with common sense, I am so pleased that I can witness you guys trying to change things from the top down. Well done guys . :aplude: :aplude:  :aplude: :aplude: :aplude: :aplude:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Beer in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a  ride!!"

Offline dangerous beanz

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #7 on: 23 April, 2013, 10:28:25 PM »
That's brilliant.

If there is a tourist season...how come we can't shoot them?

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #8 on: 24 April, 2013, 12:34:53 AM »
This a real pleasure to read and just so morally correct and brimming with common sense, I am so pleased that I can witness you guys trying to change things from the top down. Well done guys . :aplude: :aplude:  :aplude: :aplude: :aplude: :aplude:

We did this Pat.

WE!
WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline Staps

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #9 on: 24 April, 2013, 10:03:18 AM »
i enjoyed it so much i read it twice, well done to all involved

Offline DastardlyDick

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #10 on: 24 April, 2013, 04:43:45 PM »
an excellent document - well done to all involved in putting it together  :aplude:  :aplude:  :aplude:

It will be very interesting to see what's left of it once the various vested interests have offered their brown envelopes had their say.

Offline Ewan Hoosami

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #11 on: 25 April, 2013, 01:46:27 PM »
I hear Patrick Troy is preparing to feed it into his amazing inaccuracy scanner as we speak.

Appealing to the council is like playing chess with a pigeon. You might be a chess grand master but the pigeon will always knock all the pieces over, shit on the board and then strut around triumphantly.

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #12 on: 25 April, 2013, 04:07:23 PM »
I hear Patrick Troy is preparing to feed it into his amazing inaccuracy scanner as we speak.

I think the "amazing innacuracy scanner" might very well blow a fuse if our Patrick fed in the proof we have of ticket targets being written into contracts. (see para 5 of the submissions). ;D

WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline Printscreen

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #13 on: 12 May, 2013, 02:07:45 AM »
Wow great document written in plain English and full of common sense! It was actually a pleasure to read.

Offline Darcus

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Re: Transport Select Committee
« Reply #14 on: 19 June, 2013, 12:42:00 AM »
Fantastic.
Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining

 


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