20 September 2012

Breakdown in the Bus Lane

Executive summary:

Residents in CPZ's have to pay for the incompetence of Barnet Council.

The reasoning:

Mr Mustard has been thinking about parking ticket collection rates. He wondered how Barnet Council were doing in this area. He decided to send for certain figures for the year ended 31 March 2011 as it is a year that can be considered as over as "debts die of old age" is a saying in his industry and by now over 99% of everything that is going to be resolved for that year has been. Here are the figures:

Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) in 2010/11 Parking Bus Lane Notes
The total number of PCN’s issued 99,982 24,183
The number paid 72,766 15,567
Percentage paid % 73% 64% 1

The number sent to bailiffs 16,723 0 2

The number paid after bailiff intervention 2,508 0 3
Bailiff success rate % 15% n/a

The number cancelled for any reason 17,880 1,849
Cancellation rate % 18% 8% 4

The number still being chased for payment 3,000 4,872 5
Unresolved rate % 3% 20% 6


1. The percentage of bus lane tickets paid ought to be higher than for parking offences as mistakes in bus lane tickets should be rare and as the reasons for a valid appeal are more limited.

2. Here is the real reason why the percentage of bus lane tickets paid is lower than for parking tickets. It is because none at all were sent to bailiffs. This means that in 2010/11 you could simply ignore a bus lane ticket and you would have not been prompted to pay by a bailiff arriving on your doorstep.

3. The bailiff enforcement system is not an effective one if they only collect 15% of what they are asked to collect. It also begs the question as to how good the quality of the issued parking tickets were.

4. More than 1 in every 5 tickets for alleged parking offences were cancelled. This also makes one question the quality of the tickets issued. What a huge amount of pointless administration. If the quality was increased to 99%, perhaps by employing better paid and trained traffic wardens, the back office administration parking team could have been reduced by 20%. 

Even for bus lane tickets a cancellation rate of 1 in 13 tickets is pretty poor.

5. Mr Mustard finds the still being chased number of 3,000 to be a conveniently round number. He was not told that it was an estimate. There is a 1 in a 1000 chance that is is the truth. 

For bus lanes 1 in 5 tickets are still supposedly live. Mr Mustard thinks that they are only being chased in theory and it's just that no senior manager has had the guts to write them off.


Why have no bus lane tickets been sent off for bailiff collection? The story that came Mr Mustard's way was that it was the implementation of a new and incomplete Civica CE system, so file that, if true, under senior management failure.

The financial loss to us CPZ residents.

If the collection rate for Bus Lane tickets had been as high as for parking then the number of tickets paid would have been 17,600 which is an extra 2,033 tickets recovered.

In 2010/11 bus lane tickets were £120 and if unpaid they went up to £180 so the revenue lost is £365,940, or £366,000 to the nearest thousand.

In the report to Cabinet Resources Committee on 14 December 2011 the outsourcing of Parking had an untroubled passage to an Agreed vote. The attached report said that NSL were expected to provide the following increases in income 

2012/13  £59,000
2013/14 £121,000
2014/15 £186,000

which by one of those rare co-incidences amounts to £366,000

If NSL do nothing other than routinely put bus lane contraventions through the entire collection cycle, rather than stopping part-way, they will collect in one year the extra income needed across three years and thus look fantastic simply by doing an average job. One Barnet will be marked down as a roaring success when in fact it was due to an internal administrative failure or a management decision that the income was depressed.

Instead of Mr Mustard's "blogger bus" CPZ permit rising in cost from £40 to £100 it could have risen instead to the more reasonable sum of £65 (there being about 10,000 permits in issue which could have been increased by about £35 less - rounding £366,000 divided by 10,000 downwards) or Visitor Vouchers could have been pegged at £1.

Think about that councillors. If you had paid more attention in CRC and asked some searching questions and if you knew more about the resources of the council that you make rapid decisions about, then you wouldn't have residents and businesses up in arms about parking and your seat looking rather wobbly.

Here is a snippet copied from the Mrs Angry's Broken Barnet blog (and she is very angry at the moment about being described in a most unladylike fashion along with the rest of the public gallery - in an ungentlemanly fashion for some of them)

Hugh (Rayner) made a very interesting observation. If contracts do fail, he said, with absolute seriousness, the bloggers will know before we do. Would it be possible to ensure that they, the councillors, are informed when contracts are about to fail?

Mrs Angry laughed to herself.

Don't worry, Hugh: We'll tip you the wink.

Not only do we know about impending One Barnet failures Hugh, we already know more than most councillors and Directors and Assistant Directors about current administration failures. 

Have a think about this one and go and buy yourself a fine tooth comb for future meetings of the committee that you chair. Throw away the clock you watch and just have more meetings that last longer and are more rigorous.

Might some serious scrutiny have uncovered this before a blogger did so?

Does anyone at the council, whether Officer or Councillor, feel even the tiniest little bit ashamed or embarrassed to be shown up in this way?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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