Monday, 26 March 2012

Lines and signs - Strafford Rd grounds for appeal.

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The enforcement of parking is meant to be all about fairness. However, I think it really hurts the council if they issue a parking ticket (penalty charge notice / PCN) and then have to cancel it. The officer might even have a little cry. What they should be doing is looking fairly at the situation and asking themselves if the ticket has been issued in honourable circumstances and if not, they should be delighted to cancel it. Enforcement is meant to be about keeping traffic moving not about raking in as much money as possible.

I am a great advocate of appealing if the lines or signs are wrong. The lines and signs are of generally standard format so that drivers from all over the country encounter uniform rules. Therefore if the signs or lines are not clear an appeal should be allowed; in legal terms ambiguity favours the party who has suffered by it.

I think I must have encouraged too many people to put in appeals where lines are not clear as the council has reacted. Look at this CPZ bay in Strafford Rd.

who stole the bay markings?

The white line you can see is the centre of the road. Where is the marking for the combined "residents / Pay by phone" bay? Completely erased. I watched a CEO (Civil Enforcement Officer / traffic warden) patrol this bay last week and he didn't even glance at the markings to check they were reasonable. All the cars had permits so he went on his way without dishing out any tickets, but he would have. If you have had a parking ticket in Strafford Rd send in an appeal. If you have paid for one recently ask for your money back as you have paid in error.

This will change soon but on Barnet Council's website it currently says:

Civil Enforcement Officers are not contractors – they are directly employed by the council. We aim to deliver a good quality service in a fair manner, and to provide help and assistance, but we are there to enforce restrictions if people disregard them.

So having directly employed CEOs was seen as a good thing. Bad luck, not any longer. NSL are coming and their dodgy tricks are legion. 

You have to ask yourself if Barnet Council don't actually trust NSL very much either. One of the tasks of NSL will be to maintain lines and signs. If a parking ticket is successfully appealed on the grounds that the lines or signs are incorrect then NSL will have to put them right, probably within a fixed period such as 30 days, so that closes the door to repeat appeals at the same location. Given that the success rate of fixing defective lines & signs is likely to be a Key Performance indicator in the contract I ask why three people are now going to be employed by Barnet Council to look at lines and signs?
1406 Parking Lines Signs Staff

The parking informnation supervisor (PIS) will earn between £30,001 and £32,800 and his/her two parking Information oficers (PIO) will earn between £22,221 and £24,646. Thus there is a salary bill oif around £77,000 and with on-costs of office space, national insurance, pension contributions of 24% and vehicles there will be no change from £150,000 p.a.

The point of their job is to defeat enough appeals against parking ticket appeals to cover the cost of employing them (as otherwise it would be cheaper to allow all technical signs & lines appeals). People who appeal on the grounds of invalidity are likely to do so at an early stage and their tickets will thus be worth half of the £60 lower rate contravention or £110 higher rate contravention, say a £45 average. If we divide the £150,000 by £45 then the PIS/PIOs will need to defeat 3,333 appeals between them in a year. That is 1,111 each across about 200 working days (and the officers have other things to do). So let us suppose these challenges are correct half of the time then each officer will have to deal with 1111*2 = 2,222 inspections each year all over the borough. So that is 11 sites a day to visit, photograph, take notes and measurements and then return to base to write a report ready to send to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service if necessary. No-one is going to be able to work to that schedule day in day out.

It is evident to me that these officers are going to cost more than they save. 

The commonsense answer, except in Barnet, would be to make sure that your parking contractor had a perfect line and sign maintence programme.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

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