A new era, and the wider aspects of enforcing parking legislation formed the theme of the British Parking Association (BPA) Autumn Seminar, held last week and attended by leaders of the UK parking industry. As proposals to change the way Local Authorities (LA) operate parking enforcement are anticipated from Government, industry leaders gathered to discuss preparation for change, and the future.
A number of issues, which could be taken forward in the industry, were covered. These included:
Quality Measurement – Making Parking FairerProfessor John Raine, of Birmingham University presented a paper on Measuring the Quality of Local Authority Parking Enforcement. Currently such measurements are undertaken locally and some LA’s still use the number of tickets issued in an area as a way of assessing the quality of their parking enforcement service.
His paper reflected that at present, quality measurement focuses mainly on the LA and the parking enforcement provider, and that a system whereby the quality of service to the public is also measured, should be used instead. He also suggested and prioritised improvements that could be made.
The key recommendation was a measurement system which:
- reflects both public and professional perspectives
- local authorities can use themselves
- gives local authorities scope for improvement, and prioritises that improvement
- promotes collaboration, exchange and learning between all local authorities
Keith Banbury, Chief Executive of the British Parking Association comments: “One of the biggest issues in the on-street parking industry today is the perception that it is operated unfairly, particularly from the point of view of the motorist. By focusing more on the quality of the service delivered and measuring compliance with the regulations, hopefully the industry will be able to improve public perception.
The paper ‘Measuring the Quality of Local Authority Parking Enforcement” prepared by the Institute of Local Government Studies’ School of Public Policy at Birmingham University, is available at www.bham.ac.uk.
National Parking Offenders DatabaseA presentation was delivered about the benefits of creating a national parking offenders database. Currently information on persistent offenders is held by the local authorities individually, and persistent offenders are often treated idifferently by different Councils. .
By introducing a system where information on persistent offenders is shared between councils this could have a great impact on those who try to cheat the system in many Council areas. . For example, an offender with numerous outstanding parking tickets in one Council area could have their car removed in an other area, if parking regulations were once again violated – where normally they would have received a ticket only. By creating a National Parking Offenders Database, a parking attendant would be able to find out, greater information on the parking history of the vehicle.
Keith Banbury, Chief Executive of the British Parking Association said: “Persistent parking offenders cause problems for all communities, as they often ignore the regulations to the detriment of those who park correctly including disabled drivers. By creating a national offenders database, parking attendants all over the UK would be able to act quickly, to the benefit of the public.”
Abuse of Blue Badge SchemeThis seminar highlighted the continuing abuse of the disabled badge scheme.
Liverpool City Council, in co-operation with Merseyside Police conducted a pilot scheme to cut down on abuse by identification of deceased badge holders through the Department for Work and Pensions, which holds a deceased persons database. In addition, the introduction of new software with links to the registrar’s office assisted in identifying problem areas.
As a result, the Department for Transport is now consulting other stakeholders to review the powers to inspect Blue Badges.
Blue badge fraud is a widespread problem which tends to affect most, the people that it was introduced to benefit. Keith Banbury said: “We are very keen that the Government highlight, target? make an issue of Blue Badge fraud, which includes the loan of badges as well as improper use. At present, the scheme is managed by the local authority, But by introducing tougher and more uniform enforcement detection and prosecution against fraudsters, much will be gained.
Future of Parking EnforcementFollowing his review of Decriminalised Parking which was presented to the British Parking Association (BPA) in May, Richard Childs, former Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, spoke about the realities of parking enforcement in the UK and the need for legitimacy and transparency in the eyes of the public.
The BPA commissioned Mr Childs to deliver a review of current parking regulations, which has been presented to the Department for Transport. This was delivered in advance of the release of new Government guidelines on Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE), which are imminent.
Nigel Williams, President of the BPA commented: “Over the summer, we encouraged the Government to consider the recommendations made in the review, and we are currently looking forward to their issue of new draft guidelines for DPE, which should be out early next year. In areas such as fines, transparency and abuse of parking attendants the recommendations were particularly strong and, if they are taken forward by Government, the BPA believes that they will go a long way to ensuring public confidence in the system. We strongly urge the DfT to take these recommendations on board, and are working in partnership with them, and others within the industry to effect real change."