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News & views

Government lawyers to investigate wording of target-setting parking-ticket contracts

by Freddie Dawkins, editor of CCR-Public Sector (www.CCR-PublicSector.com)

Also click here for our related story. 

[23 Feb 2014] Local government minister Brandon Lewis has pledged to investigate whether local authorities are illegally setting targets for the number of parking tickets issued by traffic enforcement officers.

Following an investigation, the BBC’s Inside Out programme alleges that three London boroughs – Lambeth, Bromley and Hackney – are setting targets or offering incentives. Bromley, it says, is offering financial bonuses to private contractor Vinci for every penalty charge notice (PCN) issued over a baseline number of 72,000. Meanwhile, says the BBC, Lambeth has stipulated in its contract with NSL (formerly NCP) that it requires at least 205,000 PCNs to be issued every year.

And Hackney contractor APCOA is said to band individual wardens on the basis of the number of tickets they issue per hour, with the council stipulating that no more than 10% can fall below ‘band two’.

However, such clauses appear to be prohibited by the government’s Operational Guidance to Local Authorities: Parking Policy and Enforcement. The guidance states:

An enforcement authority should base performance measures and rewards or penalties, wherever possible, on outcomes rather than outputs. Performance and rewards/penalties should never be based on the number of PCNs, immobilisations or removals.

Outcome indicators might include compliance statistics, the number of appeals, the number and length of contraventions and the localised impact they appear to have had on road safety and congestion.

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