The nice people at the NIAO responded very quickly to my request letting me know that they could post a copy of the report out to me. However, as their office is just across the street from mine, I suggested that I could just pick it up. They left a copy of it out for me, and I collected it late this afternoon.
Some of the highlights:
- Parking is significantly profiable. In 1999-2000 Roads Service received £1.23m from the sale of parking tickets, with expenses of £0.35m. A further £390k was received from the Courts through fixed penalty notices
- In 1999 Roads Service commissioned consultants to surveny on-street parking. They found that around 41% of vehicles were illegally parked (as high as 94% in some areas)
- Thus Roads Service are probably losing as much as £300k a year through unpaid charges.
- There are 22 traffic wardens in Belfast, covering 20 ‘beats’ and 1,323 parking bays
- There are huge variations in the numbers of tickets issued per beat and per warden
- It takes 10-15 minutes to issue a ticket compared with computerised wardens in GB, who can issue a ticket in less than one minute
- 20% of fixed penalty notices are cancelled or suspended – in most cases because the DVLNI’s register of vehicles is inaccurate
- 28% of salary costs go towards overtime, however this is undestated and is probably considerably higher. A large part of this is for Saturday cover, which is automatically classed as overtime.
- Sick leave amongst traffic wardens is very high at 26 days a year (The RUC, as a parallel was 21 days)
- To prosecute for having no ticket, it has to be established that there was convenient access to an operational ticket machine. In a survey of Feburary 2000, over 60% of machines were out of order at some time during the month, some on more than 5 ocassions.
- It is not recorded how long machines are out of order, or the response times to fix them.
The report concluded:
- The current enforcement regime does not provide for the efficient and effective operation of on-street parking
- The levels of manpower may be inadequate
- The service is poorly managed, with low levels of cover during peak periods, no ongoing review of the composition of beats, high levels of overtime and sickness absence, and littoe or no attempt to monitor or benchmark performance
- Introducing a decriminalised parking scheme could provide a viable alternative