9 October 2012

Charitable Giving is Expensive (in Barnet)

Here is the text an an email sent this morning Richard Cornelius the "leader" of the council and copied to every councillor.

Dear Leader

Do you want to be the leader of an administration that makes old ladies cry? You are.

Do you want to be the leader of an administration that bleeds money out of motorists on bank holidays? You are.

Do you want to be the leader of an administration that makes the lives of the disabled harder than they need to be? You are.

Do you want to be the leader of an administration that penalises people who give to charity? You are.

I have managed to get your officers to see sense, cancel the parking ticket and refund the money to the lady who was collecting a death certificate from the hospice at the same time as her brother was also a resident there. The blog link is at the end.

I have just taken up the cudgels on behalf of a motorist who received a parking ticket opposite Angelo's (in your ward) at 4.04pm on Bank Holiday Monday. There is absolutely no need for bank holiday enforcement to be anything other than the same as for Sundays. Why don't you take a look at the parking income and expense of a typical Bank Holiday and then you will doubtless see that the light isn't worth the candle. Think of the positive publicity you will get from scrapping penalty charges on a Bank Holiday (except on double yellows and for dangerous and obstructive parking). The strange thing is that the council think it OK to let anybody park for free outside my house in a CPZ in a resident or shared pay-by-phone / residents bay, the very spaces which are under pressure because most residents are at home on a Bank Holiday, but some poor sap parking outside a church in N20 gets hit with a parking ticket when there would be very few people on the road (except traffic wardens on scooters having a ball).

I recently read at PATAS (Parking & Traffic Appeals Service) of a case involving a resident who has cerebral palsy and needs a motorised wheelchair to get about. Was any mercy shown to him by your administration? No, none at all. The blog link is at the end.

This week I read of another case at PATAS concerning a man dropping off goods to be sold at a charity shop. Here is a copy of the decision by the adjudicator (with the name of the motorist removed)

Mr has appeared in person.
Mr A's evidence is that he was parked to make a delivery to the Barnados shop to which he is a regular donor and a letter from Barnados is submitted in evidence confirming a donation on 7 April 2012. I have noted that there was no observation period by the CEO (see footnote). Mr A says that he would have been in the shop for no more than a minute.
I am satisfied from his evidence that he was properly parked for unloading purposes and I therefore find that the alleged contravention did not occur.
I am also not satisfied that the PCN was correctly issued. There is no photographic evidence and the Council's evidence is contradictory. The case summary says that the PCN was affixed to the windscreen of the vehicle while the CEO's notes state that it was handed to the driver. I accept Mr A's evidence that he was not handed a PCN and that there was no PCN attached to the car when he came out of the shop.
Thus you are the leader of an administration that thinks it is OK to try and get an extra donation from a resident of £60 when he is clearly already doing his bit. Will he be rushing to Barnados to donate in the future?

Questions that come into my mind are:

1. why do traffic wardens issue parking tickets instantly? it wouldn't be to meet the secret ticket targets would it?
2. why was no notice taken of a letter from a Charity established in 1867? The sort of organisation unlikely to spend their time fabricating stories.
3. why did no-one at NSL show any common-sense?
4. why did no-one at Barnet Council show any common-sense?
5. why do residents have to go through 5 months of stress and uncertainty? The parking ticket was issued on 7 April and should have been cancelled as soon as the letter from Barnados arrived.
6. why do traffic wardens cheat and lie?
7. are NSL properly supervised? (I will answer that one for you. No, they are not)

If you want to ask an officer for the history of this parking ticket you will need the number which is AG57534977.

Now let us think about One Barnet.

Parking enforcement is contracted out to NSL but their performance reflects on the council. There is a retained thin client of 5 officers. The question is whether this contract is working.

Well judging by the state of the Special Parking Account at the end of quarter one it clearly isn't as it is £1,200,000 down on budget (which actually doesn't matter in my view and nothing should be done about it other than getting NSL to do their job properly or sacking them if they are incapable).

If it is partly the case that officers haven't been doing their jobs properly, maybe the transfer of information was badly handled, then officers will be avoiding putting themselves into the spotlight by suggesting termination of the Contract.

Given the state of the contract you ought to put internal audit in there as soon as possible.

By the errors of judgment that are being made in the appeals process the contract clearly isn't working as the council appears to be ruthless and uncaring, against the disabled, anti big society and money-grabbing.

Parking is an easy service to outsource as there are clear rules and yet it has gone wrong despite outsourcing to a supposedly professional outfit.

Now multiply this up from £3m a year to £275m or £750m (DRS & NSCSO) and think:

Will a private company actually do a proper or better job? I don't think it is an automatic assumption, your own parking department's results last year at PATAS were much better than you are getting now.

Can you properly supervise a contractor with a thin client structure? Not if the example of parking is to be believed. The task of deciding upon informal parking ticket representations in cases of mitigation will now be considered by the council and not by NSL who are contracted to deal with them.

Will extra income be generated and will costs be reduced? Judging by the shortage on the Special Parking Account in one quarter of £1.2m which is equivalent to 2 years worth of the aspirational savings that NSL were going to bring I, if I were you, would be a very worried man indeed.

You are a capable small businessman and I would expect and hope that you have already requested a detailed analysis of what has gone right with NSL and what has gone wrong and look at how the handover was handled and then think again about the monster One Barnet contracts. The downside of a mere 1% drop in council tax recovery would negate £2,000,000 of cost savings.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


Footnote: The Contract with NSL allows them to issue a parking ticket in the time that it takes to do so in pay-by-phone bays, residents and dual use bays.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.