The Sunday Times - Britain
April 10, 2005
ONE of the country’s biggest parking contractors is motivating its traffic wardens by offering gifts from Argos if they help to “increase revenue”.
A National Car Parks (NCP) document explaining the scheme says points to purchase Argos products can be given to staff for the “issued number of tickets per shift/day”. The scheme has been designed to reward traffic wardens who achieve agreed targets.
NCP denies the scheme is “points for tickets”, but says the Argos points are distributed for all-round performance. Some wardens are, however, anxious to give out as many tickets as possible in the hope of getting extra Argos points.
One warden who works in Islington, north London, said last week: “The more tickets you give, the more points you get. It goes to your Argos card.”
NCP is one of several contractors employed by local councils to issue tickets and works for 30 local authorities around the country. The “Argos Scheme” was introduced by NCP last year in many of the areas where it operates.
A “launch briefing” document obtained under Freedom of Information laws states: “The proposed incentive scheme is designed to motivate employees by rewarding those who make a difference by achieving particular targets or agreed standards.
“Examples of the type of activity points will be awarded for (include) . . . issued number of tickets per shift/day.”
A second document explaining the Argos scheme and sent to all NCP employees states: “Where you demonstrate your excellence at work, contribute to increased revenue or cost savings, or have gone the extra distance, you will be rewarded.”
Under the scheme, one point is the equivalent of £1. Managers are given a certain number of points per month which they can award to their staff as they wish, who then use their points to shop in Argos.
Some wardens have understandably been anxious to give out extra tickets in the hope of getting more Argos points. A spokesman for NCP said last week the scheme was never meant to encourage wardens to give out more tickets, but to reward wardens for all aspects of their performances, including good timekeeping, appearance and maintaining a good relationship with the public.
He said the proposal to give out points for tickets per shift was never followed by managers. Tim Cowen, a spokesman for NCP, said: “It is about rewarding people for working well, and has never been and never will be to do with the number of tickets issued. I can categorically say that does not happen.”
Cowen said “increased revenue” referred to giving more accurate tickets, and said any traffic warden who believed they could get Argos points for tickets issued was wrong.
NCP has been criticised in the past for bonus-related schemes. Two years ago it promised a Vauxhall Corsa worth £12,000 to the warden who imposed the most fines in Westminster, London. Other prizes in the “Champions League” scheme included a £1,500 holiday and a wide-screen television worth £800.
The incentives helped create a ticket blitz. Papers released under the Freedom of Information act to The Sunday Times reveal that one traffic warden based in Westminster issued 1,444 tickets in October 2003 — an average of over 60 a day.
The Champions League scheme was, however, shelved last summer after NCP became concerned it would be unpopular with motorists.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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