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Parking controls and the enforcement of those controls serve two

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Parking controls and the enforcement of those controls serve two

    Embargoed until 06.25 am, Tuesday 31 May 2005

    London Assembly Transport Committee

    Parking enforcement in London

    A Transport Committee investigation into the

    enforcement of parking controls in London

    June 2005

    Embargoed until 06.25 am, Tuesday 31 May 2005

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    Contents

     Page

     Committee membership 4

     Terms of reference 5

     Chair‟s foreword 7

     Executive summary 9

    1 Introduction 13 2 Background to the development of parking enforcement in London 15 3 The current system 17 4 Public concerns 25 5 Impacts on business 42 6 Other road users 48 7 Parking attendants 51 8 Conclusions 58

     List of recommendations 60

     Appendices

    1 PCN contravention codes 63 2 PCN volumes by borough 65 3 Removal and clamp data 66 4 Parking account data 67 5 PCN appeal rates by borough 68 6 Evidentiary hearings and written evidence 69 7 Orders and translations 71

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    Membership of the Transport Committee for the parking enforcement meetings

Lynne Featherstone - Chair (Liberal Democrat)

    Roger Evans - Deputy Chair (Conservative)

    John Biggs - Labour

    Angie Bray - Conservative

    Elizabeth Howlett - Conservative

    Peter Hulme Cross - Veritas-UKIP

    Darren Johnson - Green

    Murad Qureshi - Labour

    Graham Tope - Liberal Democrat

The Transport Committee‟s general terms of reference are to examine and report on

    transport matters of importance to Greater London and the transport strategies, policies and actions of the Mayor, Transport for London, and the other Functional Bodies where appropriate. In particular, the Transport Committee is also required to examine and report to the Assembly from time to time on the Mayor‟s Transport Strategy, in particular its implementation and revision.

Contact for this report:

    Paul Watling, Scrutiny Manager

    paul.watling@london.gov.uk

    020 7983 4393

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    Terms of reference

    To investigate the enforcement of parking regulations in London including: ; The recent development of parking and enforcement policies, including the

    reasons for decriminalisation of enforcement;

    ; The legislative background for parking and enforcement policies, including

    regulations, signing and financial issues;

    ; The basis for parking regulations including enforcement on the street, numbers

    of penalty charge notices issued, numbers of vehicles clamped and removed, and

    directions given to parking attendants;

    ; Procedures for dealing with challenges to and appeals against parking penalties; ; The effectiveness of the enforcement of parking regulations, including the

    different approaches of borough parking enforcement and red route enforcement

    by TfL;

    ; The use of private contractors for parking enforcement and the conditions of

    their appointment;

    ; Issues surrounding the safety and security of parking attendants; ; Evidence of common standards and procedures between boroughs and moves to

    establish good practice;

    ; Issues surrounding the co-operation between the different agencies involved in

    aspects of parking enforcement;

    ; Views of road users on the enforcement of parking regulations in London.

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    Chair’s Foreword

    There is nothing like coming back to your car and finding an „unfair‟ parking ticket to raise not only our blood pressure, but also our innate sense of fair play. But what is „fair‟?

    In a city which has too many cars to move around or park without associated rules, we accept restrictions and penalties so long as their purpose is to alleviate traffic

    problems and not to raise revenue.

    Over recent years, with an steep increase in the number of Penalty Charge Notices issued there has been a fair bit of squealing going on both from motorists and in

    the media.

    Justified or not? That is what the London Assembly set out to investigate in this scrutiny into parking enforcement in London.

    Several Local Authorities and the Association of London Government were concerned that such a spotlight might trigger unwarranted attacks from residents and the media on them for their parking policies. However, this investigation seeks not to point the finger at any individual authority that is a matter for local focus,

    local investigation and local elections.

    This London Assembly investigation seeks to question and highlight those areas where the public believe difficulties lie and suggest common sense ways forward to alleviate the seeming growing tensions between restriction and compliance.

    With such a „hot‟ topic, there have been a variety of views expressed to the Assembly on this issue many very strong views but on both sides. Our report seeks to

    reflect the evidence, both written and verbal, in our findings and recommendations. And whilst this report will not resolve those tensions overnight, our aspiration is that it will begin the process.

    Finally I would like to thank all those hundreds of members of the public and other organisations who contributed their time and views to this investigation.

Lynne Featherstone

    Chair of the London Assembly‟s Transport Committee for the parking enforcement investigation

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    Executive summary

    1. Parking controls and the enforcement system were originally designed to

    serve the objectives of ensuring road safety and maintaining the free flow of

    traffic on London‟s streets. As the number of cars and other vehicles in

    London have grown, additional controls have been introduced to manage

    kerb space where demand for parking exceeds supply.

    2. The 1991 Road Traffic Act decriminalised parking enforcement, passing

    responsibility for this from the Metropolitan and City police forces to the

    London boroughs. The Act paved the way for a widespread change in the

    approach to parking enforcement as Local Authority Parking Attendants

    were created and empowered to issue penalty charge notices and to authorise

    vehicles to be clamped or removed.

    3. By 2003/04 nearly six million penalty charge notices were issued in London

    bringing in an income of some ?300 million pounds for boroughs who, after

    expenditure, made surpluses of more than ?113 million pounds for their

    parking accounts.

    4. The transition from the relatively benign police enforcement to the much

    more efficient enforcement by or on behalf of London boroughs has been

    predictably controversial and even confrontational, as both motorists and the

    London boroughs embarked on a steep learning curve.

    5. Generally there is public support for parking enforcement, and the

    Committee accepts the need for those controls which are vital to London‟s

    economic and social well being. But there is growing diversity of opinion

    about whether the current system is either too lenient, or too harsh. In

    essence, people are asking, is it fair? Has the right balance been arrived at

    between the need for these controls and, at the same time, ensuring that the

    process is operating both fairly and effectively?

    6. Of all the responses received by the Assembly to this investigation from

    members of the public, businesses and other organisations, the issues of

    revenue raising, proportionality and discretion consistently appear to raise

    the most concern. Other issues surround problems with signage, the

    complexity of regulations operating in London and difficulties of dealing

    with the challenge and appeal process.

    Revenue Raising

    7. There is undoubtedly for many Londoners a suspicion that the nature of

    parking enforcement contracts, the number of tickets being issued as well as

    the instances of improperly issued tickets whatever the magnitude

    represent parking enforcement being used as revenue raising.

    8. The Committee saw no explicit evidence that this is the case but understands

    public perceptions to the contrary. If the purpose of the parking enforcement

    system is to prevent illegal parking then Londoners must be clear as to what

    they are expected to do, and in return have absolute confidence that

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    boroughs are acting only for the purposes of ensuring road safety,

    maintaining traffic flows and managing kerb space where demand exceeds

    supply. We urge the boroughs to do more if they are to reassure the public

    that, as they state, the purpose of parking enforcement is, and will continue

    to be, to manage traffic.

    Proportionality

    9. We received considerable evidence that motorists are being fined for minor

    breaches of regulations such as overstaying pay and display bays for a few

    minutes, cars parked inches outside marked bays or with a wheel barely on a

    kerb.

    10. There seems to be an emerging recognition that there is an argument that

    divides between contraventions in permitted parking overstaying on a

    meter for example - as opposed to more significant and absolute

    contraventions such as parking on a yellow line where it is prohibited.

    11. We believe that a study of differential parking penalties is needed and that

    further work should be done on the practicability of operating two tier

    penalties for minor contraventions in permitted parking, as opposed to more

    serious overstays or contraventions of prohibited parking regulation.

    Complexity of regulations

    12. The existence of so many different regulations between boroughs, and within

    the same boroughs, is a source of confusion which leads to many

    unintentional violations of parking controls.

    13. The Committee sees logic in public and business desires to harmonise

    regulations, however there are good reasons why controls need to vary from

    place to place. It is unlikely that constant hours of operating are appropriate

    across London. The Committee is aware that many calls for controls come

    from specific local demands to meet particular local needs.

    14. While a commonsense approach is clearly needed to ensure consistency,

    consideration of local needs should remain the primary driver for instituting

    parking controls. Of course raising public awareness will go some

    considerable way in reducing any confusion, and this is why we welcome the

    publication of any standards, guidance or directions given to those enforcing

    regulations.

    Challenges and appeals

    15. We were told that the real test of the robustness of the enforcement process

    lies not in those Penalty Charge Notices that are routine but in those the

    motorist challenges. Indeed there is evidence that many people give up

    having had their representations challenging ticket issue rejected, when in

    fact they have well-founded grounds for contesting liability.

    16. Parking enforcement is a public service, although often paid for by a

    reluctant customer. In any case it would seem obvious that boroughs should

    ensure standards of customer care in the challenge service are the highest

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