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Controlled Parking Zones

Residents’ parking permit fees - Craske’s deception

Copied from the blog of 6 November 2010

Controlled parking zone sign

Bexley’s website says that their Parking Control Account (PCA) has been filed at the Mayor of London’s Office but in a phone call to try to get hold of a copy they said they were still waiting for it. Why does Bexley council have to lie all the time? Fortunately an FOI is not easily ignored. From that we learn that total parking fees last year were £669,000 and fines (from Penalty Charge Notices, PCNs) were £2,306,000. An income approaching £3m. Costs for the whole operation; that’s all parking and fining activity, not just that relating to residents’ parking permits, was £2,257,00 - so parking services overall run at a tidy profit. They allegedly spent it on “Transport Strategy”.

You won’t be surprised to learn that a council as vindictive and motorist hating as Bexley issued 54,583 (revealed by FOI request) penalties in the year for which the overheads must be considerable. They have a uniformed gestapo team going around on motorbikes and in cars armed with cameras and computers checking on yellow lines all day long. The yellow lines and notices are found throughout the borough. On the other hand we have residents sending in payment for a permit who subsequently get one in the post and the Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) infrastructure extends only across a few areas near railway stations and shopping centres and operates for only two hours a day. Let’s be extremely generous and assume that the cost of processing a PCN is the same as processing a permit. Unlikely I know, PCN’s get challenged and result in appeals and paperwork and residents just wait for the postman, but let’s give Craske the benefit of the doubt. So now we have 3,081 permits issued and the best part of 55,000 PCNs. It’s pretty close to being a 5%/95% split or to put it another way; of the £2,257,000 expenditure on parking services just £113,000 may relate to CPZs and parking permits.

The FOI provides a break down of costs. £49,000 is attributed to “Permit Administration” and whilst the permit income is not revealed it must be well over £100,000 at the old permit price and Craske said in his email it is £170,000. He also said that fines from parking in residents’ bays amounted to £275,000 whilst the FOI says that the total of all fines was £2,306,000. So 12% of fines comes from CPZs.

If you  assume, as seems likely, that it costs the same to fine a yellow line offender as it does a CPZ offender, it leads to the conclusion that CPZ fine collection costs are about 12% of the total too. The FOI says that about £2m. is spent handing out and subsequently processing fines so the CPZ element may be as high as £250,000. Quite a lot, but Craske’s emails said that CPZ related fines were £275,000 and the income from selling permits (at the pre-increase price) was £177,000. That’s a pretty big profit even before the price went up. No wonder Newham says that a CPZ is self-financing. Craske says “CPZs are very expensive to set up and maintain”. Has Craske been lying? Does he ever tell the truth? Well let’s look at things a different way and compare his emails with the FOI answer and the PCA. Then perhaps we can make up our minds.

• Craske says that the permits ran up £258,000 in staff costs. That’s nearly 60% of the whole office - for about 5% of total activity.

• Craske says it costs £49,000 to produce the permits; implying printing only because he separately lists the other costs. The FOI reveals that £49k. is the total administration cost. Looks like someone is double counting with the intention to deceive.

• Craske says it costs £36,000 a year to paint white lines within CPZs but the figure appears to be imaginary. It doesn’t appear in the Parking Accounts, or in the FOI answer and other reports indicate no lines were painted last year.

• Craske says that on-street enforcement costs for CPZs is £328,00 a year. That’s 45% of total enforcement costs according to the FOI answer - for two hours a day maximum restrictions compared to all day outside the CPZs over a vastly wider area.

• Craske says that he spends £11,000 on computers and the like just for CPZ admin. That’s exactly half the total office computer costs according to the FOI answer - for about 5% of the total work.

• Craske says that accommodation overheads related to CPZ admin. amount to £71,200 and the FOI says that premises costs for the whole office adds up to £110,000. 65% for 5% of the activity.

• Craske says that every cost related to residents’ parking permits adds up to £783,200. That’s more than a third of the entire parking enforcement office to deal with 3,081 permits and around 12% of the total PCNs issued.

November 2010
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