Parking problems are a perennial issue over the past decade across Greenwich borough as each year expected income totals failed to meet budgeted amounts.
At least a £12 million shortfall has been recorded with many years seeing an income gap between £1 million and £2 million. Just today the council themselves have tweeted stating refuse collectors cannot reach homes due to poor parking.
📣Our bin collection crews have had to miss some roads out due to very badly parked cars blocking the way. If you live on a narrow road, please be considerate and don’t park on yellow lines or on corners 👍 pic.twitter.com/S2MzoQOB7v
— Royal Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) January 10, 2021
The failure to enforce is a long standing issue that not only hampers pedestrians and other road users but costs big. The shortfall below budgeted totals each year results in over £12 million not spent on improving public space, streets, and transport in the borough.
Last month the latest report on council finances showed another £1 million miss for the department. The report also contained apparently inaccurate information on how many traffic wardens – or civil enforcement officers – they have to monitor parking.
While the report before Greenwich Council’s cabinet stated 32 staff, according to a Freedom of Information response they actually employed 28.
Now, it could be that four staff quit in the very short time before a report was drawn up and presented to councillors – and they couldn’t hire more staff despite programs such as GLLaB, but reports featuring details of the relevant department have been poor for many years. Reports sought to explain how the department continually failed in raising budgeted income, and almost every year it was the same copy and paste as little changed:
Go back four years and it’s the same thing with the favourite line being: “The agreed parking strategy is being used as the basis for a number of initiatives” appearing almost every year, for many years.
The strategy appeared to do nothing but would be trotted out to councillors – and the next year rolls around with the same thing appearing and another shortfall.
The department had fewer staff in 2016/17 than 2010/11 to enforce parking despite numerous new build developments constructed over that period and an increase in controlled parking zones. Flagship “car-free” schemes saw – and continue to see – extensive parking on cycle lanes and pavements.
After years of this a decision was finally made to hire more staff which reduced the budget miss by 50 per cent.
And while they finally agreed increased levels of staffing, we can now already see that increase to 32 staff falling back – though they decline to mention it in the report. While it may be unreasonable to expect staff to be hired during spring last year during lockdown – they had months over the summer and autumn.
The authority struggled with 32 staff members to monitor areas, let alone a now-reduced total. A continual stream of new housing developments completing stretches numbers ever further. In addition, Controlled Parking Zones approved years ago are still not in place and the council now talk of more. What staff will enforce?
The authority does now has CCTV enforcement live for traffic offences 16 years after the powers became available and 29 out of 32 London councils had adopted measures. What happens with that revenue remains to be seen. It is ringfenced for streets and transport and could be used for more parking staff, improved streets or ever more street clutter, continuing many years of blowing money on street furniture as enforcement fails. Place your bets. If councillors swallowed reports uncritically and large budget misses each year, will they be on the ball with this income?
For now at least poor parking remains widespread, staff numbers are lacking and councillors appear not to be receiving the full picture.
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