As Sunderland City Council continue to claim that their Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Regime is 'legal, robust and enforceable' and as they pay £73,000 compensation 'by agreement' to NCP for terminating their contract early one really has to look behind the smoke and mirrors.
This is a council desperately trying to cover up matters when the most honest thing to do would be to say 'mea culpa' and pay back the money. The short term pain would be in the long term gain ... but no, this is Sunderland where the defence of the indefensible 'til the death seems to be engrained and enshrined into the body politic.
If NCP had not been operating their contract correctly and had brought the City into disrepute as a result of the BBC Inside Out programme then the contract should simply have been terminated without compensation.
However, they (NCP) have been given a sweet pay-off and NCP have also been allowed to keep the lucrative off-street part of the contract.
One insider from NCP reminds us however that NCP was fully aware of the non-compliant signs, lines and Traffic Orders in the City as far back as 2003 and such was their concern that on three separate occasions the firm offered to pay for a full review. The Council kept telling NCP that the regime was 'legal, robust and enforceable.'
The insider also told us that the council didn't properly monitor the contract and many NCP concerns were never actioned, just covered up. Under no circumstances must the public be told.
Remember how they were first caught out after issuing illegal tickets in taxi ranks. See here
Director Phil Barrett said:
"It is an anomaly relating to the implementation of just one aspect of the city's parking system."
Now over two years later perhaps the only anomaly that could be found is something that has been done right!
Now it has also been exposed that the Council lied about the lines and signs and TROs to the DfT in order to get DPE powers and operate a parking enforcement regime where they were allowed to keep the money one must also question what else has been covered up. Only a full external investigation will reveal the extent of the deception which goes across all council departments. One can make excuses for incompetence but when incompetence is exposed and then covered up and no restitution of unlawfully derived monies then what follows is deliberate. Some would call it fraud, some misconduct in public office, some deception. Whatever it is called it is behaviour which falls far short of what is expected of a public official.
Perhaps the Crown Prosecution Service definition of Misfeasance needs closer scrutiny. It can be seen here
As the corrective works on the lines and signs now starts to approach seven figures (although the council even refuses to disclose the amount to the opposition groups) and is still ongoing we can perhaps see the real reason why the report identifying the flaws was never acted upon. It would have meant massive initial expenditure to begin DPE, something which would never have got past the councillors.
Perhaps now, and before more damaging revelations are published, it is time to request the intervention of the Department for Transport to put matters right before the Secretary of State and the High Court is forced to do so.
You can read the open letter to the Chief Executive here
The next post will show how serious signing flaws have the potential to cause something far more damaging than a parking ticket.
Friday, September 28, 2007
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