Friday, November 24, 2006
Same feet on traffic beat
Thursday, November 23, 2006
By Kevin Clark
Sunderland Council has seized control of parking enforcement in the city - but the same staff will patrol our streets.
Councillors voted to strip NCP of the responsibility after an undercover TV sting exposed racism and corruption.
NCP sacked five disgraced enforcers after an investigation - but it was not enough to convince councillors that the firm should keep control.
They voted unanimously yesterday to withdraw the contract from NCP, though the firm will retain its responsibility for off-street car parks.
But it emerged today that remaining attendants will continue their job, with the council pledging to retrain them.
Council leader Bob Symonds said: "It is not a knee-jerk reaction. We have looked very closely at it and we believe it is the appropriate action to take."
The BBC Inside Out documentary, which was beamed across the nation this week, showed attendants making racist remarks, mocking disabled drivers, and telling an undercover reporter that they had "tortured" drivers on Villette Road, caused criminal damage to vehicles, and accepted drinks in return for not issuing parking tickets.
Tory leader Lee Martin accused the council of doing "the bare minimum" to deal with the problem and claimed the authority was "terrified" of upsetting NCP.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron branded the council's move as 'disgraceful' and predicted there were further revelations about the parking situation in the city to come.
But Coun Symonds denied there were any more problems.
Tim Cowen, of NCP, said: "We will work with the council to see if we can facilitate the transfer of the on-street service, and continue to work hard to manage car parks in Sunderland on behalf of our clients."
Action on NCP was right move
By bringing part of the NCP parking enforcement contract in-house, the city council has hopefully drawn a line under this whole unsavoury affair.
There were calls from most quarters for strong action from the council and that is what we have seen. It's certainly a move that will be applauded by those who witnessed the TV expose.
There is no place for the antics of those parking attendants who were revealed making racist comments and failing in their duties.
On-street parking attendants are the public face of parking enforcement and, as such, their behaviour is under greater scrutiny than most.
NCP sacked those they felt were most to blame, but this was not enough.
It is clear that tighter management in this area of public work is required. We trust the council will do a better job than NCP.
Posted by Neil Herron at 9:49 am
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