Wheel Clamp

Parking in London

Equally uncertain and worrying for the Council is what would happen to parking revenues if a London-wide system was introduced.

RBKC Direct, Newsletter 6, February 2005

The new on-street enforcement contract with NCP continues to work well. NCP continues to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the needs and expectations of the Council and residents. Daily PCN issuance is now slightly below the levels achieved in previous years. Whilst there is still a small shortfall on a year-to-date basis, officers and NCP management remain confident that the shortfall will be recovered by the end of the first year.

Report to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee by Nicholas Paget-Brown (Paragraph 4.5), RBKC Councillor, 2007

...time is of the essence.... we [are] losing out a huge amount of income...

emails from London Borough of Newham to VCA, 22 June 2011 (Newham's parking profits up 306 per cent since 2009/2010)

So blind are some local authorities in their pursuit of parking enforcement revenue that they daily put aside their commonsense, decency and integrity, and instead do their very best to destroy what little is left of the public's trust in and respect for those in uniform, Council employees and mainstream politicians.

My observation after a decade of investigation into the parking enforcement practices of local authorities in London

On the Relationship between Civil Enforcement Officer Performance and Overtime Allocation (April 2013)

Are Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) treated equally irrespective of the rate at which they issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)? Or do those who issue PCNs at a higher rate get more overtime allocation, while those who issue PCNs at a lower rate risk losing their jobs? Based on data gathered via a January 2013 Freedom of Information request to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea covering the 2012 calendar year, we conduct statistical hypothesis tests to establish whether there is (a) a significant positive association between high rate of PCN issue and allocation of overtime and (b) a signficant association between low rate of PCN issue and termination of employment. Click here to see the data and explore the findings.. You can also read a Telegraph story about the study.

Civil Enforcement Officers

Council Sponsored Thieves

You have to laugh at the new term for Parking Attendant - "Civil Enforcement Officer". Actually there is nothing "civil" about the way these revenue-raising operatives blindly enforce draconian parking enforcement rules against motorists, most of whom are simply doing everything they can to park correctly in good faith. Perhaps Councils should just be straightforward and call them "Council Enrichment Operatives" or "Council-Sponsored Thieves" instead. But being straightforward and honest would be too much to expect from any politician. Click here to watch a RBKC CEO fraudulently attempting to issue PCNs to workmen who should be given 20 minutes for loading and unloading (April 2013).

New parking rules

New parking regulations came into effect in England and Wales at the end of March 2008. One has to be amazed at the way the rights of motorists are thrown out the window in these new supposedly "fairer" rules as the government makes yet another shameless grab at our wallets via our motor vehicles. As one example, Penalty Charge Notices are to be deemed to be valid even if they were not served properly (either by handing it to the driver or by attaching it to the vehicle) as is required at present. This denies the driver his or her basic right to collect evidence in defence of an alleged contravention, encourages fraudlent PCN issue by PAs and allows Councils to profitably pursue trivial short-term infringements of parking rules (in violation of the legal principle of de minimis non curat lex). In addition, some common contraventions such as parking on a single yellow line are to be classified as "serious" offences that attract a higher penalty (e.g. £120 instead of £100). Of course we are told this has everything to do with safety and nothing to do with the fact that single yellow line contraventions are the most common contraventions, and have therefore been especially selected to boost Council budgets!

Inside a parking contract

Ever wondered about the precise relationship between Councils and the on-street contractors that enforce decriminalised parking legislation on their behalf? Just how do Councils incentivise contractors and how do they measure their performance? Wonder no longer as we take a look at the decriminalised parking enforcement contract between a central London borough and their on-street contractors.

On street with a Westminster Parking Attendant

On street with a Westminster Parking Attendant

Is decriminalised parking enforcement about revenue raising or about keeping the streets free of obstructions and providing residents parking? In February 2005 I spent four hours on street with a Westminster Parking Attendant trying to find out. You can decide for yourself (as we ticket Royal Mail vans, unmarked police cars, a BT van and a disabled driver and call in the clampers on a driver who dares to pay for 40 minutes of parking in two lots of 20 minutes!) It is interesting to compare this experience with the rather different (unsurprisingly perhaps) experience of the chairperson of the recent London Assembly scrutiny investigation into Parking in London.

Recent Media Features

Dan Milmo from The Guardian has written a May 2007 article about the NCP/RBKC contract discussed above ("Clamp urged on parking fines"). So has Gary Cleland from the Telegraph ("Parking wardens told to book 100 cars an hour)".

BBC 2 aired an excellent Money Programme: Parking Mad investigation into parking enforcement on Friday 4 August 2006 at 7pm. It was particularly interesting to see the head of Westminster Parking Services trying to deny the revenue and enforcement targets (for PCNs, clampings, removals, the number of tickets that should be issued per PA per hour and so on) that are so clearly present (in columns labelled "2006/2007 Target") in the Westminster Parking Services Business Plan for 2006/2007 (February 2006, local copy). new!

I featured in a May 2006 Saturday Times magazine article about "Britain's Parking Hell" by David Rowan.

BBC 1 aired a "Whistleblower" programme on Wednesday 1 June 2005 at 9pm about decriminialised parking enforcement. We saw prima facie evidence of illegal ticket issue, bribery, corruption and even criminal activity (if only I could say I was surprised...) This program played a role in APCOA losing their decriminalised parking enforcement contract in Kensington and Chelsea (subsequently picked up by NCP).

Channel 4 recently featured a Dispatches special "Confessions of a Parking Attendant," which was rather consistent with my experience. Here is a summary of the Dispatches special.

Not to be outdone, ITV aired a program called "Parking Mad" at 7:30pm on Tuesday 22 March on ITV London. Very interesting viewing! The highlight for me was the council parking attendants sneaking around and ticketing vehicles in a quiet cul de sac at 3am - definitely helping to keep traffic flowing there then, and nothing to do with making money of course!!

Avoiding tickets and your rights when dealing with Council Parking Attendants

An insight into the pressures on Council Parking Attendants

What to do if you receive a Penalty Charge Notice or Notice to Owner

What Council Parking Services need to do

By issuing around 800,000 tickets a year, Westminster Parking Services (through its contractor NCP) is making itself pretty unpopular (to put it mildly) with hundreds and thousands of people. Here are some ways in which they (and other council parking services) could improve:

What Government needs to do

Westminster Parking Services and others are only allowed to act in the way they do because they are exploiting (to the fullest extent possible) the rights given to them under the Road Traffic Act 1991. Government needs to take a serious look at this vague and incomplete piece of legislation paying careful attention to:

Some statistics about parking tickets issued in London

My PCN statistics page shows Association for London Government figures for the number of PCNs issued by London boroughs for every year from 1999/2000 to 2003/2004 inclusive, as well as the revenue (£297.4 million in total) and net profit (£112.6 million in total) on their Parking Accounts. As you can see, generating revenue and income through parking services is a very profitable industry (average 38 percent profit margin) that is growing rapidly in many boroughs (PCNs issued grew by an average compound growth rate of 10% per annum for every year since 1999).


Valid HTML 4.0!