16 August 2011

Barnet expects that every traffic warden will do their duty

Now Mr Mustard does know that Civil Enforcement Officers aren't called traffic wardens any more but readers know what he means and so he is going to use that description throughout this posting.

Mr Mustard would also like to apologise most profusely to all his readers. 

Not only has Mr Mustard amended the line "England expects that every man will do his duty" which was a signal sent by Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson from his flagship HMS Victory as the Battle of Trafalgar was about to commence on 21 October 1805, but Mr Mustard is now about to talk about Councillor Brian Coleman in the same sentence. 

You can compose your own epithet but Mr Mustard is thinking National Hero, Local Zero for some unfathomable reason.

Cllr. Coleman's expectations are such that Mr Mustard thinks that he may well meet his Waterloo very soon.

What does central government say about targets for traffic wardens? The following guidance is from the Operational Guidance to Local Authorities: Parking Policy and Enforcement issued by the Department of Transport and updated in November 2010.

3.6 CPE is a means of achieving transport policy objectives. For good governance, enforcement authorities need to forecast revenue and expenditure in advance. But raising revenue should not be an objective of CPE, nor should authorities set targets for revenue or the number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) they issue.

3.7 The judgement in R v LB Camden (ex parte Cran) made clear that the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 is not a revenue raising Act.
3.8 Enforcement authorities should run their CPE operations (both on- and off-street13) efficiently, effectively and economically. The purpose of penalty charges is to dissuade motorists from breaking parking restrictions.
The objective of CPE should be for 100 per cent compliance, with no penalty charges. Parking charges and penalty charges should be proportionate, so authorities should not set them at unreasonable levels. Any penalty charge payments received (whether for on-street or off-street enforcement) must only be used in accordance with section 55 (as amended) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

And Cllr Coleman what does he do ? He has a weekly meeting with the parking "service" at which he asks how many tickets have been issued. That one question alone puts pressure on those in charge of parking. So what targets are traffic wardens set each day?

This is what the council website says :

There are no “targets” for the number of tickets a Civil Enforcement Officer must issue. We simply require that our Officers, when on duty, issues penalties to vehicles observed in contravention.

No mention of sensibly using a traffic warden's discretion but a requirement to issue a penalty.

Also the council put the word "target" in inverted commas. Why? perhaps because there isn't a target but an expectation. Traffic wardens are expected to issue 12 parking tickets per shift. What if they don't see 12 contraventions in a shift ? they are still expected to issue 12 tickets.

What is an expectation anyway ? Mr Mustard's dictionary says it is something that is "hoped for" and his thesaurus linked it with assumption, demand, requirement so an expectation is dangerously close to a quota or a target.

The staff in the parking service have had enough of this sort of behaviour and are about to start working to rule, see here. Excellent. Mr Mustard hopes that traffic wardens will look very closely and very slowly and thoroughly at every car and every line, entry sign and panel sign to be sure that they are exactly 100% in accordance with the law before they issue a penalty charge notice. That will mean that virtually no penalties can be issued because the lines need renewing in most places as the council well knows.

So Cllr. Coleman what should you be looking for? You should be setting the expectation that penalties come down week by week as residents learn from their mistakes ( isn't that Barnet's mantra ) and then they don't transgress again. The ultimate goal should be zero tickets issued. How should the Council be acting? 

Well Mr Mustard thinks they should run free courses that explain all of the rules and regulations that apply in Barnet and explain how and where to park legally in Barnet.

They could give guided tours of the CCTV centre so you can see how if you drive in a bus lane you will get ticketed so nudging people into complying.

They could give every resident who doesn't get a penalty charge notice within Barnet in a year a discount when they renew their resident's permit to say thank you for being a good law abiding motorist.

Basically, Mr Mustard prefers the use of a carrot to the stick.What should you do if you get a parking ticket. Mr Mustard's advice is to appeal. Many tickets that are issued are technically wrong. Whilst the work to rule is going on Mr Mustard has the expectation that the Information Officers ( an unintelligible title ) who deal with appeals will cancel a ticket if there is any doubt about it having been properly issued. You can search the internet and put in your own appeal or you can find a company that specialises in doing these things for the poor downtrodden motorist. For the C zone there is a new service which will advise you in the links to the right of this blog and it looks like other people will start up in other zones. Do let Mr Mustard know how you get on if do you use that service.

Do you suppose that Cllr Coleman ever gets a ticket? Mr Mustard doubts it.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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