28 June 2012

The parking cash cow

Cuts down on parasites; not seen one of these in Barnet

A cash cow is the name that is given to a business that just generates cash which then tends to get invested in other businesses.

In the case of Barnet residents we were being milked (bilked even) for all we were worth last year and of course the judicial review is still rumbling along. There is no recent news but it is still a good idea to keep an eye on the CPZ Appeal blog. Now that the previous holder of the parking portfolio, one Brian Coleman, has been replaced by Dean Cohen who appears to be more moderate and prepared to listen, there will doubtless have to be discussions about how the legal proceedings will be settled and they will be going on quietly in the background.

What has happened to parking over the last 2 years?

Here are the figures taken straight out of a report presented to Cabinet Resources Committee on 20 June 2012 (Item 9)

Year 2010/11 2011/12 Increase Note
Item £ £ %
Parking tickets 3,970,934 6,492,115 63% 1
Permits 1,179,924 2,068,269 75% 2
Pay & Display 2,109,547 2,980,090 41% 3
Bus Lane CCTV fines 1,099,820 735,537 -33% 4
Income 8,360,225 12,276,011 47% 5
Costs 6,271,885 6,567,971 5% 6
Net profit 2,088,340 5,708,040 173% 7

Let us look at each line in turn.

1. The number of parking tickets issued went up by 63% or about 50,000. Did residents and visitors suddenly get worse at parking? No. This is attributable to a deliberate push to issue more tickets and the removal of meters which made compliance harder and partly by a £10 increase in bus lane and higher level penalties. Is this an example of putting the community first? No.

2. The first resident permit increased in price from £40 to £100 which is an increase of 150% and yet the income increased by only 75%. This is a demonstration of price elasticity.  The point was found at which demand is dampened even for something that you think you have to have. Many people living near the edge of CPZ zones simply gave up or started parking in their front gardens if they could.

3. Pay & display charges vary greatly but this 41% increase will be due to increased charges not to increased visitors. Car parks were noticeably more empty after the price increases and the removal of parking meters.

4. There was a problem with being able to monitor the cameras for sufficient hours (Mr Mustard thinks) and/or with the software not being able to follow up on people who simply failed to pay.

5. An increased income of 47% in one year is a scandal. It truly is highway robbery. Making up budget pressures by taxing the motorist in this way is frowned on by central government and by voters (not all that long until the next local elections, just 23 months).

6. Costs went up by 5%. Salary levels were not increased but lots of overtime was probably on offer so that more tickets could be issued and there were quite a few agency staff who come with added costs.

7. Overall net profit a whopping 173% increase. Disgusting.

Mr Mustard had to pay the CPZ increase (he only has one 4 wheeled vehicle, the "blogger bus") which was one of the main reasons why he started the blog. He managed not to get any valid parking tickets and he didn't pay to park anywhere in Barnet either on-road or in car parks. He does not drive up the bus lane on the A5 and he recommends that you don't either. It simply is not worth the risk. Stay out of it and let's see if we can make the CCTV income of £735,537 go down yet further. Those cameras would be better used on real crime.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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