The number of parking fines issued across Greenwich borough has more than doubled since 10 new members of staff were hired earlier this year.
After numerous complaints of dangerous parking including 100+ London bus drivers threatening to cease stopping at bus stops in certain areas, the authority hired 10 new members of staff taking the total up to 32 employees.
In December 2018 they issued 3,112 tickets. By April 2019 this had increased to 6,133. The previous April saw 2,586 tickets.
Before hiring additional staff, the borough were 31st out of 32 for issuing tickets across London boroughs. Complaints poured in that many places had become a free-for-all with poor parking blocking bus lanes, kerbs and paving parking commonly seen.
Despite a decade which saw high levels of new house-building, increased parking zones and other changes including new shops, Greenwich saw reduced staff levels from 2010 to 2017:
Alongside this a budget hole of at least £12 million has opened up. The below screenshot from a council report is a common site year after year:
Interestingly just 10 more has seen tickets more than double compared to the year before suggesting new staff are issuing more tickets per employee.
What’s interesting is that despite this being known for years, no action was taken until pressure became extremely strong. Without public pressure would the budget gap have continued to increase? A “parking strategy” adopted around 2015 had little impact but no action taken.
At a time of central Government cuts it was odd the authority didn’t adapt given parking enforcement is at worst cost-neutral, and usually generates income to be spent improving areas of the borough.
Better streets coming?
Where additional funds will be spent remains to be seen. Currently much income helps to fund concessionary passes for the elderly and other groups. As this site has covered before, Greenwich Council is almost unique in not allocating parking income to improving streets under the Local Implementation Plan. Many authorities use income for concessionary passes and street upgrades.
Will Greenwich Council now follow?
Due to a lack of parking income Greenwich Council have been using general funds to plug the budget gap. Those funds could now be allocated to healthcare, housing, education and more.
It should be noted these are only fines issued by Greenwich’s Parking Department. Many areas of the borough including estates and certain shopping parades have seen parking outsourced to a private company named Wing Security. That contract was renewed in summer 2018 and sees no income from fines heading towards the council.
Wing Security have also come in for heavy criticism regarding poor enforcement. Certain areas – such as the 3,000 home Abbey Wood estate – are notorious for dangerous and obstructive parking.
Despite numerous complaints from residents little ever seems to change – and renewing the contract doesn’t bode well.
But on the other hand things have changed in other areas. The question now is whether staff focus on areas which cause congestion or go for easy targets. Despite increased staffing and tickets, daily reports still come in of chronic problems persisting in the same old areas. More staff still needed?