In a pretty damning revelation it turns out Greenwich Council have ignored guidance issued in 2014 and fines have not been levied at drivers for poor parking in much of the borough since 2016.
For many years this site has highlighted the problem of poor parking at various estates across Greenwich borough and a contract with private company Wings Security which allowed the private company to retain all revenue from fines.
The contract ends in 2021 and the authority are finally looking at making changes. For nine years now the method used has proved increasingly ineffective, as in 2012 a new law relating to parking enforcement banned wheel-clamping which resulted in a switch to issuing non-statutory parking notices. To access details of owners, details were requested from the DVLA.
That made enforcement harder, and then in 2014 central government told authorities to stop using contract law to enforce parking on estates and instead use Penalty Charge Notices for illegal parking. The report states:
“In 2014 the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport wrote to all authorities, informing them that the Government does not recognise use of contract law on non-highway land and that local authority car parks should be regulated in the same way as public highways, by means of Traffic Management Orders.”
Now, seven years later, this looks like it may happen.
That’s seven years using a private company that retained all income yet was increasingly unable to enforce when alternative measures existed. It explains why Wings never did very much “enforcement”. Much like the use of CCTV for moving traffic violations which has been available since 2004 and only adopted in 2020, it’s taken many years to utilise powers to obtain income during a time of cuts.
It gets worse when you see that in 2016 the DVLA stopped providing the details of registered keeper of vehicles to enforcement companies operating on behalf of local authorities. The council report states that since then it’s basically a free for all:
“in effect this means that if the Council does not hold the vehicle owner’s details
and Wings issues a PCN, the Council has no means of locating the vehicle
owner and enforcing the penalty charge.”
The report continues: “As a result of this, the issuing of non-statutory parking notices under contract law has ceased to be an effective method of parking enforcement, and the Council can no longer recover the penalty charges successfully. This is unsustainable for the Royal Borough of Greenwich when taking into account that ineffective parking enforcement and non-recovery of penalty fines applies to over 100 of its housing estates that have car parks which are currently managed under contract law.”
What’s even more baffling is that the council renewed its contract with Wings in 2018 even after this became the case.
And while they were unable to enforce illegal parking the council spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on ever-more street clutter as an ineffective alternative – which often did its best to obstruct pedestrians.
Consultation will now commence but will ignore many residents as the council state they will “carry out consultation with its tenants and leaseholders to gain their insights on how best to implement parking enforcement and any potential charges on their estates.”
In a large estate like Abbey Wood – with 3,000 homes – many residents are now freeholders or private renters and thus a large number will be excluded from consultation.
Council tenants and leaseholders are outnumbered in most of the estate – and it’s easy to see the tenure of each house given work on council housing saw roof tiles replaced under the Better Homes program. Many houses never saw the work as are no longer council owned. A google satellite image is revealing and clearly shows most homes did not see the work. People living in those homes will not be consulted.
Greenwich Council really need to get into the modern world and realise they are excluding huge numbers. They have form in Abbey Wood estate with prior parking issues, as after complaints they only wrote to council tenants and leaseholders in an area where most residents did not fall into that group.
The estate now has so many residents that are not social tenants or leaseholders that they could even have switched much land from Housing Dept control to Highways Dept control years ago to overcome parking enforcement issues before this latest move.
The trouble with the authority is they lump all areas in together and havn’t moved with the times. This description of parking in the report is wrong for all areas managed by the authority: “Where parking is enforced these car parks are used exclusively for council tenants, leaseholders and their visitors. A hard copy parking permit is provided, when applied for, and there is no cost for tenants parking on these estates. Permits are issued annually.”
This does not happen in in Abbey Wood or many other areas. There are no permits, no car parks but regular on-street parking under the Housing Dept’s control – or at least that is what the authority has claimed for many years.
It’s seeing this level of inaccuracy that perhaps helps explain why parking is such a shambles and has been for so long, which has cost so much money.
Even now there is a major problem given the report states: “These TMOs will be specific to the Council’s 100 housing estate car parks and will be entirely separate from other TMOs which apply to the Council’s publicly maintainable highways.”
If only car parks are included that means many areas with on-street parking under Housing department land will still see a free for all. This could be another mistake from an authority and they simply mean 100 estates and streets within, but if they do only mean car parks then huge swaths will not be covered. Some might be able to tell them during consultation – if they didn’t exclude so many people.
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