Investigation Report of Ealing Council's Parking Management
By Councillor Gary Malcolm
1. Inconsistency with the dispensing of parking tickets: On occasions residents report that they are “let off” a ticket after a complaint is made: and in the same situation another time the complaint leads to no cancellation of a ticket.
2. Paid because of the stress: Many residents have report that they have paid the £40 fine when they have received a ticket to either “…get rid of the stress” or because they fear that an appeal is set up against them, even though a number of residents state (a number have shown me clear evidence of their innocence) they did not commit an offence.
3. Incorrect information used: A number of residents who raised parking issues with me have shown that the parking attendants who ticketed their car have done so quoting incorrect information. For example some tickets say the car was parked on a double yellow line (when there are no double yellow lines on the road) or a number were told they parked in roads or addresses that do not exist in the borough of Ealing. These errors waste the residents’ time as well the council staff.
4. Hard to understand literature: When residents get letters from the council to inform them that they have broken the rules and they receive the fine, it is not always obvious what the resident has done wrong. Most residents, if they have made a mistake, want to know what rules may have been broken, to avoid a fine in the future. Some while they enquiry as to the reason for the ticket receive more tickets.
5. More problems with CPZ Renewals: When Control Parking Zone B permits were due to be renewed the way the Council processed the permits caused many problems -
• Delays in residents receiving permits when many residents proved they had paid their renewal fee in good time (as quoted in a letter from the council to residents).
6. Answer the Phone Please: There is a lack of Parking Services staff answering the phone when residents contacted them. A resident of Marlborough Crescent, Bedford Park, wrote: “I am writing because the CPZ team seem to have their phones permanently off the hook…”
7. Does The Council Reply To Residents?: When residents have problems with, or complaints about, parking matters and they cannot get through on the phone some contact the manager in charge by letter.
8. Do you need glasses?: A number of times parking tickets have been dispensed to residents across the borough where the vehicle owners have said they placed the relevant visitors permit (i.e. if waiting for the delayed renewal permits to arrive), CPZ permit or a blue badge on the correct location on the windscreen.
9. Problems with CPZ consultations: Many residents have negative feedback of the way the council conducts consultations and about how it takes on board comments during the design stage of the control parking zones. The following comments were received:
10. Dangerous Parking attendants on scooters: It has been reported that many parking attendants are seen 'cruising' the area looking from side to side whilst on motor scooters. One resident said: “This is dangerous.”
11. A non-effective use of resources: Residents in the Bedford Park area describe that Zone B is too intensively policed where wardens: “…seem to be constantly patrol the area”. It is therefore thought that the warden should be working in a range of areas and not solely in one area.
12. Suspension of parking bays: Parking bays can be suspended for example when a film crew hire the use of a street to shoot a film. A number of residents report that they have been ticketed when parking in a suspended bay.
13. Confusing signs: One Chiswick resident wrote: “The sign at the southern end of The Avenue is confusing. It states that you are entering Zone B but the first few spaces are Pay & Display only. The residents parking zone doesn't actually start until about 100 yards further up the road. I regularly see people with valid Zone B permits ticketed by the shops on Bedford Corner.”
14. Permit charges: One resident commented that: “permit charges have not been raised and hopefully this will remain the case given that the administration of parking in Ealing is in surplus.”
15. Lack of Automation: A resident from Whellock Road area of Southfield stated that the system for renewing CPZ permits is inefficient and wasting council taxes.
16. No Flexibility around CPZ borders: A number of residents who live on the edge of a CPZ can park in one road but not the adjacent one, which makes life more difficult than before a CPZ came info affect.
17. Unfair appeal system: Many residents have said they think the appeals system is unfair against the resident and in favour of the Council. This is because a comment in a parking attendant’s notebook is treated as being factually correct and so the judgement will favour the Council where the stories are different.
18. Computer error: It was reported recently that a resident of Gordon Road, Ealing was given a parking ticket for an offence that was not committed because of a Council computer error. The resident said: “I was sure I had not stopped in the box junction.”
19. CPZs are there to make money: Many residents have the belief that CPZ schemes are there to make money and not to control parking problems.
20. Incorrect Tickets: Lots of people contacted myself to report that after receiving a parking ticket that they knew was dispensed incorrectly they managed to get the ticket cancelled. However much time and effort was needed when the fault lay with the parking attendant.
21. Lack of Information: A resident from Hatfield Road, Southfield, commented upon the efficiency of Ealing council in informing residents of information about CPZ consultation results.
22. CPZs do not work: Some residents have reported that controlled parking schemes have not made an improvement from the situation before the scheme was introduced.
23. CPZs can work: One resident from Acton commented: “We had a CPZ quite recently and I wasn’t sure if it would work. After a few months there seemed to be a reduced amount of cars in my road.”
24. How consultation can work: From a couple of residents who said they discussed a proposed controlled parking zone with both their local resident’s group and a council officer who attended a local meeting, they felt more involved in the pro’s and cons of a CPZ.
A. To have more consistency in the judgements made by Parking Services. Listing out circumstances where leeway is clearly to be given (and not given) can enable this to be more successful.
B. The Council should without delay cancel tickets with incorrect information.
C. To reduce the incidence of errors by parking attendants, and to instil confidence in the procedure of issuing parking tickets, a trial should be started in a particular ward where small digital cameras are used to photograph offences. This would more ensure that parking attendants would only dispense valid tickets.
D. Make the literature easier to understand and less legalistic so that residents can understand why a ticket was dispensed. This will reduce the number of subsequent offences while the residents are awaiting contact from the council’s Parking Department.
E. Ensure that planning is made for the CPZ renewal process and extra staff are deployed from other areas within the department where needed to ensure that the processing occurs quickly and efficiently.
F. Look to automate more of the process so that less manual work is needed to process renewals.
G. A grace period for residents to be publicised when a delay has occurred for residents renewing CPZ permits.
H. Residents to be compensated who used visitor’s permits to be able to park while the CPZ permit renewals were processed while the Parking Services delay was occurring.
I. For Parking Services to ensure that the length of time for residents who are waiting for the phone to be answered is reduced.
J. Also letters to the Manager in charge of Parking Services and their staff to reply promptly to residents who are querying or making a complaint.
K. As part of the consultation process of CPZ to make standard the process of the council finding and liaising with residents groups who can assist in helping the council officers meeting more residents face to face, who may have questions about a proposed CPZ scheme.
L. To ask those in charge of the parking attendants, who ride scooters, to drive more safely.
M. For the council to link in with ward councillors so they can see where tickets are dispensed and where parking attendants are asked to patrol.
N. When a suspension of a parking bay is to be introduced the residents of the road and adjacent roads should receive, with adequate notice, a short, clear letter indicating the details of the suspension.
O. For ward councillors and community groups to be written to asking that the council would like feedback on whether CPZ related signs may raise confusion because of their location or other reasons.
P. The signage as mentioned in paragraph 13 needs to be altered so that residents or others are clear about what is meant by the signs.
Q. When a CPZ zone is proposed there needs to be an inbuilt presumption where buffer zones can be introduced at the borders of two or more CPZs. Therefore in the report that goes to Area committees needs to clearly state whether a buffer zone(s) is recommended and how it would work or that one is not useful, stating why.
R. The Head of Parking Services to ensure that all computer errors once identified are remedied so that no faults can be caused in future.
S. The monies raised from separate CPZ schemes and monies spend generally for the borough’s CPZs should be published on the web in a clear and specific manner.
T. Each month the types of incorrectly dispensed tickets should be collated and the parking attendants whose actions caused the errors should be either retrained or have their mistakes explained to them.
U. The council should look to lobby so that parking appeals can be conducted using email.
February 8, 2006