311. Parking policy and enforcement is at root about encouraging mutual respect and tolerance on the streets of every city, town and village in the country. It is an aspect of our environment which affects everyone. Its deficiencies will adversely affect the lives of each one of us. It is therefore important that the Government, local authorities, and citizens work together for parking solutions which are sensible, fair, uniform in their essentials, but which are as responsive as possible to the wide variety of local requirements throughout the country.
312. The development of good, imaginative parking policies is not a ’headline grabbing’ activity. It involves the cooperation of national and local government and citizens, and relies for its policy articulation and enforcement fundamentally on steady, unspectacular, and sound administration: in other words, the essence of ’good government’. Unfortunately, what we found all too often was not ’good government’ but inconsistent, poor, and creaking administration, lack of drive for reform, poor communications, confusion, and a lack of accountability. It is a serious indictment of the Government, the Department for Transport, and the local authorities that we have found this to be the case.
313. Nevertheless, the Department for Transport’s intention to produce draft statutory guidance on decriminalised parking enforcement affords an excellent opportunity to set matters on the right lines, and this must be seized. The forthcoming action needs to go beyond a mere revision of guidance however. It must take the present inconsistent and confused arrangements for parking nationally and dovetail them into a system fit for a major country in the 21st century.
314. Our work has shown that a revitalised parking system needs to demonstrate the following characteristics:
Performance standards need to be established and achieved. The statutory guidance and the regulations which are due to be published shortly by the Department for Transport must establish a clear set of performance criteria which civil parking enforcement operations must meet. This is a key opportunity for the Department to promote a consistently high quality of operations throughout the country
It must be made clearer to drivers what regulations are in force and how compliance is to be achieved. Enforcement operations should be ’firm but fair’. Local authorities must make it as easy as possible for drivers to understand and comply with the parking regulations in force. This will be achieved by ensuring that Traffic Regulation Orders are legal and relevant to local needs, and that the regulations are implemented through comprehensible and high quality on-street information
Appropriate recruitment, remuneration and training should ensure a professional parking service throughout the country. The Department’s statutory guidance should require all councils and contractors to pursue recruitment and training practices that are set out in detail to ensure a professional approach to parking enforcement work. Operational staff must be well informed about the regulations they enforce and have the necessary expertise and communication skills. Salaries should match equivalently responsible roles within other fields of local government. They should not have to work with the stigma of being ’hate figures’
The process for challenging and appealing penalty charge notices must be made clear. Where drivers are issued with a Penalty Charge Notice, we expect the Department’s guidance to require that councils make completely clear on the ticket (or on accompanying documentation) the process for paying the penalty charge; and the rights of the motorist to challenge the ticket through representations to the council and ultimately through the process of appeal to an independent adjudicator. An efficient and professional approach to dealing with representations would do a great deal to enhance legitimacy and would reduce a major source of frustration and anger among motorists
The status and profile of the parking adjudication service needs to be strengthened. Reforms are required which reinforce the independence of the service, the adequacy of its outreach to the public with the objective of embedding it much more firmly at the centre of the decriminalised parking service than is the case at present
Scrutiny of local authority parking departments needs to be strengthened. There must be proper scrutiny of local authority parking operations by the Department for Transport and the Audit Commission. Allegations that parking enforcement operations are skewed towards maximising revenue rather than achieving traffic management objectives must be tackled head-on. Local authorities should publish an annual break down of their parking operations. This should include financial information and progress against performance indicators, such as compliance rates, efficiency in dealing with representations and outcomes of appeals
Local authorities should be required to develop parking strategies which meet local objectives, focusing particularly on congestion, road safety and accessibility. These strategies should follow the best practice guidance available and they should appear reasonable and fair both to motorists and others who live and work in the area. Parking controls are essential to such strategies in a motorised society; and good enforcement of carefully made regulations is in the interest of everyone.