For many months I have been arguing that local authorities need to operate their parking operations like a proper business which means treating the users of their parking services as customers. To park in my street I need to display a residents parking permit. The street is regularly patrolled by parking attendants and tickets issued to cars parked in contravention of the parking regulations. So far so good. Recently a number of parking bays were taken out of use due to road works. Suspension notices were clearly displayed on the relevant signs.
The works finished and I parked in a previously suspended bay where there was no suspension sign showing. I was telephoned a few hours later by a neighbour to tell me my car was in the process of being towed away which she fortunately managed to stop. I had to come home from work and move the car which by then had been issued with a PCN (ie a parking ticket).
I took some photographs showing that the parking bay it was parked in had no suspension notice and sent off an appeal to the council along with the photographs. I also quoted from the council’s own parking manual which clearly states parking attendants must inform their controllers if any suspension signs are missing and these should be replaced promptly. (Parking tickets were issued throughout the day to cars parked in the parking bay but no suspension notice was reinstated.)
I received back the usual standard response saying my appeal had been looked at carefully but that the PCN had been correctly issued. I responded by asking for a copy of the photograph taken by the parking enforcement officer to show that there had been a parking contravention. Only then did I get a letter admitting that the parking bay did not have a suspension notice on it and that the PCN was cancelled.
This is a classic case of a lack of customer service at all levels within a council’s parking service which is replicated in many parts of the country. The result is an “us and them” mentality between motorists and councils rather than one of customer and supplier.
Parking needs to be treated as a core business with greater innovation and market segmentation which would both increase customer satisfaction and council revenues.