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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/02/2005
Decriminalised Parking Enforcement



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of the report, which was considered by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 18th January 2005, is to:

1. reconsider the request by Surrey County Council for Waverley Borough Council to enter into an Agency Agreement to operate on-street decriminalised parking enforcement in the Borough, in the light of further clarification and developments, and;

2. consider the potential effect of the introduction of decriminalised parking enforcement on the operation of the Council’s off-street car parks.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy



Effective parking management reduces traffic congestion and the associated vehicle exhaust pollution, enhances road safety and the environment and contributes to the social and retail vitality of our towns and villages.

E-Government implications:

Robust and extensive IT systems with electronic data links to the Parking Management Contractor, DVLA, customers and others will be fundamental to an effective and efficient enforcement operation.

Resource and legal implications:

There are resource implications both in preparing for, and introducing, decriminalised parking enforcement in respect of both on-street and off-street parking. The adoption of the Road Traffic Act 1991 will require an expansion of administrative staff, management and IT facilities.

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Introduction

1. The Council has the power to provide, operate, and make charges for the use of, off-street parking places (car parks), under the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (RTRA 84). However, it may only do so with the consent of the County Council for the area. The Council (Waverley) may enforce regulations for the use of car parks, including imposing penalties, by the making of an Order; the Waverley Off-Street Parking Places Order.

2. The County Council may, under the same Act, by the making of Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s), authorise the use of any part of a public road in its area as a parking place and determine the conditions for that use. The County Council has no powers of enforcement under the Act. The breach of a TRO is currently a criminal offence and the Regulations may, therefore, only be enforced by the Police.

3. Therefore, in off-street parking places the Regulations are made and enforced by the Council (Waverley) but in on-street parking places the Regulations are made by Surrey County Council (SCC) but enforced by the Police. That is the arrangement which currently operates in the Waverley Borough, but cannot continue, as Surrey Police has announced its intention to withdraw from parking enforcement activity, as is its right. A temporary arrangement is in place whereby SCC pays the Police for the services of two Traffic Wardens.

Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE)

4. There is currently no statutory obligation on any authority to undertake parking enforcement activity. However, the Road Traffic Act 1991 (RTA 91) was introduced to enable traffic authorities (the County Councils, in the case of two-tier authority areas), to undertake on-street parking enforcement in place of the Police. However, for traffic authorities to enforce the Regulations, the parking offences must be ‘decriminalised’ which means that penalties are enforced through civil rather than criminal, proceedings. The process is known as Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE).

5. Surrey County Council has resolved to introduce DPE throughout the County. In common with counties throughout the country, where DPE has been adopted, it proposes that the enforcement be carried out by the District Councils acting as its Agents. Districts generally already operate a parking enforcement operation for their own off-street car parks and there are economies, and practical advantages, in having one common enforcement process for both on-street and off-street parking regulations. It would enable on-street parking restrictions to be harmonised with off-street parking management. It would provide the motorist with a common parking fines system (Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s)) and a single appeals procedure to the same independent adjudicator, regardless of the parking regulation infringement being committed on-street or off-street.

Special Parking Area (SPA)

6. In order for DPE to operate, the Secretary of State for Transport (SoS) must approve the enforcement arrangements and must make an Order under the RTA91, for each geographical area to which those arrangements will apply, designated a Special Parking Area (SPA). The SoS will not generally approve an application for a SPA unless it also includes the public off-street car parks within that area. SCC proposes that, for this reason, the SPA for Waverley encapsulates the whole Borough, including the Waverley off-street car parks. The application is likely to be unsuccessful without the inclusion of the car parks.

7. The effect on Waverley is that it would need to operate its car parks under the RTA 91 legislation rather than the RTRA 84 legislation. The implications of that are described below. The implications of an unsuccessful application to the SoS is that there would be no on-street parking enforcement in the Borough, following the expiry of the current temporary arrangements, estimated to be in September 2005. The result would be that an increasing number of motorists would elect to park on-street, at no cost, rather than use the off-street Pay and Display car parks, with consequent increase in traffic congestion and obstruction, reduction in road and pedestrian safety, and decrease in car park revenue.

8. Waverley must therefore make a decision on the way in which it will operate its car parks into the future, regardless of its decision on involvement in DPE.

Operating Car Parks Under The Road Traffic Act 1991

9. The implications of operating car parks under the RTA 1991 are:

i) the Parking Attendants (PA’s) would issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s), in common with the on-street parking enforcement officers, instead of issuing Excess Charge Notices (ECN’s);

ii) the Council’s Notice-issuing and processing hardware, software, car park signing, public information and enforcement procedures would need to be adapted to the provisions of this Act; and

iii) the offending motorists would have the right of appeal, against PCN’s issued to them, to an independent tribunal, the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS).

Note: Operating under the 1984 Act, as at present, the Council both issues
the Penalty Notices and determines the appeal against their issue, i.e.
the Council is effectively ‘judge and jury’ on the matter.

There are resource and financial implications in operating under this Act as
described later in this report.

Traffic Management Act 2003

10. The Government, mindful that there is currently no statutory duty on any body or agency to undertake on-street parking regulation enforcement, and that, if local authorities do not voluntarily adopt DPE powers, there might be parking anarchy on the streets, has taken reserve powers under the Traffic Management Act 2003, to direct local authorities to do so. There is also a concern that operating car parks under the 1984 Act, where there is no independent appeals process for the motorist, is inconsistent with the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, and that, therefore, it may only be a matter of time before the 1984 Act is repealed.

Agency Agreement

11. SCC has proposed that Waverley enters into an Agency Agreement with it, to manage the on-street decriminalised parking enforcement operation. SCC has pledged that it will pay:

i) all capital costs in setting up the on-street parking enforcement operation;

ii) all continuing revenue costs in running the on-street parking enforcement operation; and

iii) all capital costs in converting the off-street car parking operation to the provisions of the RTA 1991.

SCC will not pay the ongoing additional revenue costs of managing off-street car parks under the 1991 Act as opposed to the 1984 Act. These costs are outlined under the ‘Financial Implications’ section of the Report.

12. SCC proposes an initial 5-year Agency Agreement with a review of its operation after 2 years. Waverley will seek to ensure that the Agreement is so structured that it protects Waverley’s right to withdraw from the undertaking should, at any time, any of the costs associated with the on-street enforcement operation fail to be paid by Surrey.

DPE Introduction into Surrey

13. Waverley is the only District in Surrey which has not entered into an Agency Agreement for the management of DPE, agreed a timetable for so doing, or is in negotiation over the terms and conditions of such an agreement. SCC initially invited Waverley to consider the management of DPE in 2003. A report on the matter was presented to the Executive at its meeting of 21st July 2003. The Executive resolved to inform SCC that Waverley did not, at that time, wish to manage DPE in its area.

14. Since that Report, SCC has clarified the funding arrangements and the approach of the Secretary of State in relation to the inclusion of off-street car parks in the SPA, as described above. The enactment of the Traffic Management Act 2003 has also taken place since that time, with its threat of compulsory introduction of DPE. Concerns over the Human Rights Act implications of the operation of car parks enforcement, under the 1984 Act, have also surfaced in that time.

Traffic Regulation Order Review

15. A requirement for the introduction of DPE is to review the Traffic Regulation Orders, i.e. to compare the published written Orders with the actual signing and lining (yellow lines etc) on the ground. In consequence of the introduction of Traffic Orders site by site, over several decades, and repeated resurfacing and re-lining of parking restrictions on the roads, many discrepancies are inevitable. It is necessary to publish a Consolidation Order confirming the parking restrictions which prevail to ensure that all of the on-street restrictions are enforceable into the future. That review, by SCC’s consultant traffic engineers has been completed and the Consolidation Order is in preparation, at Surrey’s cost.



Resource Implications

16. On-street enforcement is considerably more complex and prescriptive than off-street enforcement. There are numerous different Regulations, and corresponding Offences for their infringement. Procedures to defend appeals to the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) are both prescriptive and time-consuming. This would apply also to off-street parking offences, if car parks are to operate under the 1991 Act. Additional parking management and processing staff resources would be required. Additional Notice-issuing and processing hardware and software, office space and financial and administrative support would also be required.

17. There will be a public expectation of a significant improvement in on-street enforcement under DPE. Logically, the number of Patrol Attendants (PA’s) needed for the effective enforcement would be related to the length of highway subject to parking restrictions, its disposition across the Borough and the logistics of travel between the sites of priority need for parking enforcement. However, SCC has determined that it will only fund a maximum of two full-time equivalent PA’s, which is based solely on its financial resources and takes no account of the extent and geographical disposition of the on-street Traffic Regulation Orders to be enforced. Your officers have some concerns about that approach. SCC argue that the consequent increase of the enforcement team from six to eight full-time equivalent members would give the flexibility to target areas of high on-street parking violation on a sporadic basis. Your officers are concerned about any consequent dilution of off-street parking enforcement, which currently accounts for 225,000 per annum of Excess Charge Notice income and contributes considerably to Pay and Display compliance.

Financial Implications

18. Initially, the only income from DPE activity will be from payment of the Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s) issued on-street. Income could be derived from charging for on-street parking, but that is not expected to be considered in the early years of DPE. SCC’s Consultant has constructed a cost model based on the anticipated number of on-street PCN’s to be issued. The model demonstrates that the costs of the on-street enforcement operation will exceed the income from PCN’s. The on-street enforcement operation is therefore expected to be in deficit in the early years of the scheme. SCC will pay all costs relating to the on-street enforcement operation and will receive the on-street PCN income. SCC will bear the deficit.

Revenue Costs

19. The extra revenue costs of converting off-street car park operation from the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to the Road Traffic Act 1991, are:

i) the payment of fees to the National Parking Adjudication Service for every Penalty Charge Notice issued in off-street car parks (whether contested or not); currently at the rate of 65 pence per PCN estimated at 7,000 per annum approximately;

ii) the number of off-street PCN appeals upheld by NPAS which would not have been accepted by Waverley under the ECN system; estimated at 3,000 per annum approximately;

iii) consequential costs in terms of additional staff resource in more prescriptive and time-consuming procedures; estimated at 10,000.

Estimated additional revenue costs of converting car parks enforcement to the 1991 Act; 20,000 approximately.

Revenue Income

20. SCC’s Traffic and Transportation Consultant, which has advised on the introduction of DPE in Authorities across the Country, has reported that the increase in off-street car park income, resulting from an effective on-street enforcement operation, has been recorded in the range of 5% to 8%.

Given the capacity limitations of some of Waverley’s car parks, it is cautiously estimated that the increase in off-street car park income by the displacement of cars from on-street, resulting from an effective on-street enforcement operation, would be not less than 2% in those car parks where capacity exists, which is estimated would result in additional Pay-and-Display income of 40 000 per annum.

Nett additional income from operation of car parks under the 1991 Act, given an effective on-street enforcement regime;

Estimated; 20 000 per annum.


Summary

21. i) Surrey Police will withdraw from on-street parking enforcement activity in the very near future.

ii) Surrey County Council has the power to operate decriminalised parking enforcement either directly, or by delegation to each District Council, subject to the consent of the Secretary of State for Transport (SoS).

iii) SCC has resolved to adopt DPE powers and is seeking to exercise them through the District Councils.

iv) The SoS is likely to reject any DPE application which excludes off-street car parks from the Special Parking Area (SPA) defined for its operation.

v) The absence of effective on-street parking enforcement will increase the number of motorists parking on-street and correspondingly reduce the use of off-street car parks and their related revenue income.

vi) The operation of off-street car parks under the 1984 Act is at risk of a challenge both by the provisions of the Human Rights Act and by the reserve powers of the SoS, under the Traffic Management Bill 2003, to direct the imposition of DPE.

vii) The Council’s income from Penalty Charges in car parks (225,000 per annum) is at risk if a challenge to its appeals process was successful. Pay and Display charges would then become unenforceable.

viii) There are costs associated with converting the operation of car parks to the 1991 Act, both capital and revenue.

ix) SCC has pledged to pay all capital costs associated with setting up DPE and converting car park operation to the 1991 Act. If Waverley is obliged to convert to the 1991 Act at a later date, it will bear all of those capital costs.

x) There are additional revenue costs associated with managing car parks under the 1991 Act. An effective on-street enforcement regime will displace cars from on-street to off-street car parks, with a corresponding increase in off-street revenue, which is estimated to cover those additional revenue costs.

xi) There are economies and practical advantages in a co-ordinated parking management operation across both on-street and off-street parking places.

Conclusion

22. There are, potentially, benefits, both economic and practical, in Waverley working in partnership with Surrey County Council to ensure that an effective on-street parking enforcement operation is maintained across the Borough. There is a range of issues which would need to be agreed between SCC and Waverley before your officers could recommend the entry into an Agency Agreement, not least of which is the number of Patrol Attendants needed to ensure effective on-street enforcement across the four population centres and intermediate villages. The benefits to Waverley would only accrue if sufficient resources are made available to ensure a robust on-street enforcement regime. Other terms and conditions of the Agency Agreement would also need to be agreed.

23. There are risks associated with Waverley continuing to operate its car parks under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 provisions, and costs associated with conversion to the Road Traffic Act 1991 provisions. If Waverley simultaneously accepts the on-street parking enforcement role, the capital costs of converting car park enforcement to the new Act will be covered by SCC.

24. Waverley’s commitment to on-street parking enforcement, subject to satisfactory terms and conditions of an appropriate Agency Agreement, would benefit its community and environment.

Observations of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee

25. The Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered this report at its meeting on 18th January 2005. The Committee wished to emphasise the importance and need for a level of staffing that would enable 'effective' enforcement when operating the scheme in the borough and asked to receive the Officer report on detailed terms before the Executive considered it.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. Officers be authorised to negotiate the terms and conditions of an Agency Agreement, between Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council, for Waverley to operate an effective decriminalised on-street parking enforcement operation in the Borough, at no overall cost to Waverley; and

2. Officers report back to the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive with details of those terms and conditions and a detailed cost model.

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Background Papers (DoE&L)

Report to the Executive meeting on 21st. July 2003; Agenda Item 14; Decriminalised Parking enforcement

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: R Ellks Telephone: 01483 523411
E-mail: rellks@waverley.gov.uk

P Maudsley Telephone: 01483 523398
E-mail: pmaudsley@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/04-05/382