In recent weeks parking problems across Greenwich borough have come to a head with over 130 bus drivers signing a petition and threatening to cease stopping at certain bus stops.
A new Freedom of Information request sent to me by a reader shows just how few staff Greenwich Council currently have, how numbers have not improved at all over the past year and even if/when they hire more the issue is unlikely to go away.
Firstly, Greenwich Council currently have 17.5 full time staff (click to enlarge)
This is unchanged on one year ago despite a number of new Controlled Parking Zones being introduced. Here’s how that compares to figures from 2010, showing Greenwich now have less now than they did then – and for some years since:
Since 2010 there’s been a vast increase in new housing developments, schools, shops, controlled parking zones and people in the borough. Greenwich has been in the top five authorities in the UK for new homes out of 350. In recent weeks two new schools alone opened.
The Department is also dealing with a £10 million hole in its budget as income has fallen below expectations every year since at least 2012.
Greenwich recently boasted of car free areas around schools. A good scheme, but in Abbey Wood drivers simply parked on paving and grass instead beyond the boundary. No enforcement occurred.
At the last full council meetings the parking issue was brought up by residents.
Cllr Jackie Smith (at around 26:50 on this video) claimed there were two rounds of recruitment where the authority could not find anybody to recruit. The Freedom of Information request contradicts that, stating four staff have been hired yet they will result in no net increase:
It’s now believed four additional short term staff are being hired, though this is only bringing numbers to 21 if it happens – and they are temporary.
Given how long they have taken to train staff previously (the last ones hired in April are still not qualified) there is little chance of imminent change particularly if others retire or leave in coming months.
If we assume all four new staff are trained quickly and no one leaves, 21 staff will be employed though that is still running fast to stand still, and the threat of bus drivers taking action will remain.
And in the meantime (and almost certainly after) the most vulnerable – the disabled, elderly and children – will still be at risk of pavement and antisocial parking.
Another issue that arose from this Freedom of Information request is that Greenwich Council have just renewed a deal with a private parking agency named Wing Security at Housing Department managed land. Greenwich Council receive no income from this deal. Wing keep it all. Baffling at a time of cuts.
A four year contract was signed in 2014. Greenwich Council then choose to extend it in June 2018 until 14/06/2022. This is despite minimal to non-existent parking enforcement at almost every Greenwich borough housing estate.
Abbey Wood is a prime example. Every time I’m there I see over a dozen cars parked on pavements and greenery (and that’s covering barely a tenth of the estate). Its constant, has been for many years and little ever changes. It’s dire for vulnerable pedestrians.
And despite what was stated to me on Twitter this week by Greenwich’s Deputy Leader, enforcement is not happening on streets where pavement parking is specifically banned according to Greenwich Council themselves. Here’s one example of letters they’ve sent to residents (others sent on other streets) yet enforcement is almost non-existent.
To show how behind the times Greenwich Council are, they mention council tenancy agreements. Yet most people in Abbey Wood estate are now private renters or homeowners. It’s odd why the Housing Department even still manage the roads in the area – particularity when outsourcing enforcement to private companies with such poor contracts.
Given income from fines is ringfenced to transport and public real, they’ve thrown away much potential income to improve estates, streets and public spaces.
Thanks to readers who send me information. If anyone else has any, send it over at firstname.lastname@example.org