Department for Transport Annual Parking Report for Off-Street 2014 -2015

Introduction

It is the recommendation of the department for transport (DFT) that all Local Authorities engaged in parking enforcement under the Traffic Management Act 2004 produce an annual report. The Secretary of State for Transports ‘Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the Civil Enforcement of Regulations’ suggests what a local authority’s annual report might contain, this document endeavors to adhere to this guide where possible.

When one thinks of parking services, I imagine that for some the first thoughts are those relating to a ticket stuck to the windscreen of your car as a result of over staying your ticket in a car park after being delayed on return to your vehicle. However this is just one part of the services we provide. The majority of the time is spent talking to people, providing a uniformed and visible presence on the car parks representing both the Council and the area. Parking Services also provides many other services designed to prevent the public from receiving PCNs, such as the issue of car parking permits, the provision of car parks with the provision of spaces for people with mobility issues to park legitimately close to local amenities.

It is recognised that Parking Services may not be the most popular service provided by this Authority, with recent press coverage using PCN enforcement element helping to generate cheap headlines without, in most cases, having looked further into the service that is provided and how we help the public, the community and the local economy. Parking does cost or it is restricted in many areas, but charging policies do help support transport strategies as well as supporting many services provided by the Council and without doubt contributes to the overall vibrancy and vitality of this area.

All staff are directly employed by the Council, the emphasis on their deployment is to ensure they are in the right place at the right time, acting at all times as a visible deterrent to illegal parking. The Council does not issue targets for the numbers of PCNs issued and all staff are qualified under the City and Guilds certification for Civil Enforcement.

Location and Service Summary

North Devon is situated in the North of the West Country, it has many market towns and is a holiday destination for many due to it’s beautiful beaches. North Devon District Council covers an area of 244 square miles on the North Devon coast. The resident population is approximately 93,700, which can grow significantly in the summer months due to the number of tourist resorts within the area. The main towns/villages covered within our district are Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, South Molton, Combe Martin, Woolacombe, Lynton and Lynmouth, Croyde and Braunton.

Given the population, together with increasing number of visitors, parking control is an integral part of the networked management duty requirements of this authority in conjunction with other Authorities. The parking team work together to ensure that residents, visitors and other users can move around freely, with as little congestion as possible caused by inconsiderate or poor parking and able to access the many services and attractions that North Devon has to offer.

Background

In May 2008 the necessary powers were granted by the Secretary of State for Transport, in the form of a Statutory Instrument, designating the County of Devon as a Civil Enforcement Area. In Devon we currently operate a two tier system of local government and therefore this power applies equally to the district owned off-street car parks as well as the on-street parking restrictions. Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) in Devon was being delivered via an agency agreement established between the County Council and each of the district partners. The agreement was valid between May 2008 and March 2014, for the provision of Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), employed by the district councils, who carry out the enforcement duties on-street for the processing of penalty charge notices (PCNs), including consideration of challenges and appeals as well as processing payments of the charge.

Civil Parking Enforcement

As stated above Civil Parking Enforcement commenced in our off street car parks on the 5th May 2008 in accordance with the Traffic Management Act 2004 (as amended) and continues to do so.

For further information regarding on street enforcement for the district of North Devon, please contact Devon County Council, Civil Parking Enforcement Manager on 01392 382244 at County Hall, Exeter or e. email: christopher.rook@devon.gov.uk.

On street enforcement was under review by Devon County Council during 2013/14. Notice was served on North Devon Council to cease on street parking enforcement. As from the 1st April 2014 North Devon Council no longer enforces on street parking in North Devon but continues to enforce our off street car parks.

The Traffic Management Act 2004 was updated in March 2015, which referred Authorities to various amendments. Observation times were amended to state an Authority should give 10 minutes observation time before a PCN is issued to a vehicle if the vehicle is not displaying a valid Pay and Display ticket. North Devon District Council enforcement team has continued this practice since the 5th May 2008 and will continue to do so.

North Devon council has 45 car parks, which provide a total 4,187 parking spaces, for a full list of our car parks please follow the link below.

The council currently employs 6 full time civil enforcement officers to carry out enforcement duties in its off street car parks between the hours of 8.00am to 6pm each day. Please see North Devon Council’s Off Street Parking web page for a full list and information regarding our car parks.

Our back office team deal with all correspondence and telephone enquiries relating to the issue of PCNs, as well as service requests for parking permits, issues relating to the maintenance of car parks or furniture within the car parks and events that may take place involving the car parks. All our back office staff are qualified to level 3 City and Guilds Notice Processing.


Enforcement Process

The appeals process is designed to be accessible to all and does not require legal counsel. There are three fundamental stages of appeal that are open to the recipient of a PCN as set out by the guidelines under the Traffic Management Act 2004:

Informal Challenge – these must be made within 28 days of the service of a PCN.

Formal Representations – If the Penalty Charge is not paid within 28 days a Notice to Owner is sent out to be registered keeper of the vehicle. If the recipient then wishes to make a representation they must do so within 28 days of receipt of the NTO.

Appeals – if a Representation is rejected by the Authority and the appellant is unhappy with the decision of the Authority, they can appeal to the Independent adjudication service – Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT). This must be made within 28 days of the service of the rejection of the Representation by the Authority.

The Parking office aim to ensure that all penalty charge notices are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner and in accordance with the Traffic Management Act 2004. Each appeal is considered on its own merits and the Authority will always consider carefully the details provided by the appellant and relevant mitigating circumstances. We have the following information included on our website to ensure all customers are well informed of the penalty charge process, Appeals Representation procedure, Cancellation of Penalty Charge Notices and Internal Parking Appeals Procedure. Please see the Penalty Charge Notice Guidance on North Devon Council’s website.

North Devon Council Achievements for off street parking 2014-15

During 2014/15, the authority was notified by Devon County Council that the on street contract would end on the 31st March 2014. This resulted in half of our enforcement team being TUPED to Devon County Council for them to be able to run the on street enforcement in-house. This Authority then had to re arrange its own service to enable enforcement to car parks only. In order to make the transition easier for the public we organised a number of press releases with regards to the change, we notified all third parties, Parishes and Town Councils across the area. The uniform of the enforcement officers changed from black to navy blue and a label on the back of their jackets to state they are Car Parking Enforcement. Most beats for the officers had to be altered to just the car park locations. Behind the scenes various amendments were made to the parking system and processing continued for on street until the end of May 2015. The transition was smooth and we commenced off street enforcement only from the 1st April 2014.

The parking team have continued to support local events and ensure an enforcement presence for the smooth operation of local events such as The North Devon Festival, the carnivals in various towns across the district, fun fairs in various locations, Birdman, Rescue Day, Food Festival and Christmas events. All events went well and we continue to support these events in the coming years to ensure a good movement of traffic flow and enforcement for parking issues.

In January 2015 we started work on a new project to introduce a Pay on Foot barrier system in two of our car parks; Bear Street and Hardaway Head. This means that these two car parks are no longer pay and display but have barriers in place to obtain a ticket and once a customer completes their visit, then places their ticket within a payment station and pays for the length stay. Once the payment is made the ticket is placed in the exit barrier to exit the car park. This allows the customer to only pay for the length of time they have spent on the car park and also allows the customer the choice of how to pay with a choice of coins, notes and credit/debit cards.

The barrier system has been introduced successfully on both car parks. Although some issues did cause significant staff resource problems for the parking team they ensured that the system continued to work reducing the effect it had for the customers. First indications are that the majority of customers like using the system. The Authority is due to review the Barrier system by June 2016, to be able to determine if we introduce the system to other car parks.

The RingGo mobile payment service continues to be available in all our pay and display car parks. This provides an alternative payment service for the customer by paying for parking by mobile phone. It also provides the service of purchasing another pay and display ticket without having to return to your vehicle and an alternative to cash payment when not having any change! The service has now been in place for over 4 years and has seen customer use increase and currently at least 4 percent of our customers pay by mobile phone. This service is available in all our pay and display off street car parks. Please see North Devon Council’s off street parking web page for more details on RingGo.

We also work closely with the Devon and Cornwall Police and have worked on various joint initiatives. All our CEO’s check the car parks for any sign of criminal activity and also in order to prevent any theft from vehicles issue warning notes to owners warning of the dangers of leaving valuable belongings on show.


Department For Transport Survey
Local Authority Parking Enforcement Survey: North Devon Council - Off-Street - 2014-15
Report run on 22-10-2015

1a Number of PCNs issued for higher-level parking contraventions?  750
1b Number of PCNs issued for lower-level parking contraventions?  6,323
1c Total number of PCNs issued?  7,073
1d Number of PCNs paid at the discount rate? (50 percent of full rate)  4,677
1e Number of PCNs paid at the non-discount rate? 933
1f Total number of PCNs paid?  5,610
1g  Total number of PCNs unpaid?  1,463
1h How many applications were made to register road traffic debts at the Traffic Enforcement Centre?  456
2a How many PCNs issued by CEOs (Civil Enforcement Officers) were the subject of challenges for statutory and non-statutory reasons (pre and post-NTO)?  2,295
2b How many PCNs issued using evidence from approved devices were the subject of challenged for statutory and non-statutory reasons (pre and post-NTO)?   0
2c Total number of PCNs challenged at pre and post-NTO stage?  2,295
2d As a result of these challenges, pre and post NTO referred to in part c, how many PCNs, which were subsequently found in the opinion of the local authority, to be incorrectly issued, were cancelled for statutory reasons? Ie. wrong location, incorrect of missing signage lines, TMO inaccuracy, etc.  88
2e As a result of these challenges, pre and post NTO referred to in part c, how many PCNs, which were ‘in the opinion of the Local Authority correctly issued’, were cancelled or waived through the use of discretion on mitigating circumstances or due to evidence being supplied? Ie. proof of loading or breakdown, etc.  892
2f Total number of pre and post challenges cancelled, or waived following a pre or post NTO challenge against a PCN?  980
2g How many of these challenges (part c) resulted in cases going to adjudication?  33
2h How many PCNs were written off due to admin error, motorist untraceable or debt deemed to be uncollectable, ie. out of jurisdiction? (These PCNs would not normally have been counted in part d or e)?  191
3a Does your authority use immobilisation or removal of vehicles?  No
3b How many vehicles were immobilised (ie. wheelclamped)?  0
3c How many vehicles were removed?  0

The above table is submitted to the Department of Transport on an annual basis and is a requirement for all enforcement Authorities under the Traffic Management Act 2004.  This report was run as at the 3rd October 2014.

Financial Account 2014-15 for Off Street Parking

Expenditure on Parking Account 14/15 391,022.77
Income on Parking Account 14/15  - 196,722.35
Total (Surplus)/Deficit  - 194,300.42

The table above shows the off street parking account for the financial year 2014/15 with a deficit of £194,300.42. Please note that this represents expenditure/income for Parking Enforcement activity only.

Conclusions

Our prime objective for our parking service is to provide parking in line with our vehicle parking strategy for North Devon in consultation with other transportation partners. A new parking strategy will be produced by the end of 2016. We strive to provide safe, clean and affordable parking in all our car parks.

Overall in our sixth year of operation in accordance with the Traffic Management Act 2004, we have continued to provide a fair and consistent approach to parking enforcement. Despite 2014/15 being the first year of enforcement under the TMA of off street enforcement only we have continued to deliver the enforcement process effectively and efficiently.

The table of our Department for Transport survey above shows that 43 percent of representations made by customers have been cancelled as a result of an informal or formal challenge on a penalty charge notice. This figure has remained the same compared to last year, providing a consistent approach. The statistics also show that 90 percent of penalty charge notices issued is at the lower level payment band, this is due to the fact that most contraventions occurring off street are subject to the lower rate. The percentage has decreased slightly for this year, and indicates that enforcement has again remained consistent. The statistics also show a reasonable recovery rate of penalty charge notices at 79 percent for off street parking, which is an increase of 2 percent compared to last year. Please note that the recovery rate figures are taken, as at 22nd October 2014, these statistics will change over time due to continued recovery of parking debt.