Friday, July 10, 2009

Robocop Mayor takes on DVLA ... another NCP Services scandal

A reminder to ALL civil servants ... be there to serve not to threaten ... and be civil while you do so. The silent majority are starting to get a little agitated with paid public servants abusing their authority.

This week we revealed the £160,000 Employment Tribunal settlement of NCP Services Manager Geoff Topliss who courageously whistleblew on an alleged fraud on the DVLA by his company who also run many local authority contracts.

This is the same NCP Services Ltd. who 'took over' many council's parking enforcement contracts from National Car Parks Ltd. yet appeared to forget (and so did many of the councils) simple protocols, in some local authority areas, like getting written permission and consent in accordance with the council's own constitution.
At the minute there are a lot of chickens laying lots of eggs ready for lots of faces.
District Auditors are 'seeking counsel's opinion' for the second time as pressure mounts.
Members of Parliament and councillors are preparing to call for an inquiry.

Meanwhile, more documentation is being made available but there is a distinct lack of any paperwork in relation to the Sunderland NCP Services parking enforcement contract. What must be borne in mind is this little timeline:
  • 2nd October 2006 BBC Documentary exposes fraud, bribery and falsification of documents by National Car Parks Ltd. employees on the Sunderland parking contract.
  • 11 National Car Parks employees suspended and then dismissed or resign.
  • Council investigates tell National Car Parks that their contract will be terminated due to their failure ... but not until December 2007 and who lost the contract? National Car Parks Ltd. or NCP Services Ltd.?
  • Meanwhile, sale of National Car Parks to Macquarie Bank for £790m in March 2007 goes through.
  • March 13th NCP Services created as a new limited company and 'take over' the Sunderland contract and other council contracts across the country. Nothing in writing. No bonds or parent company guarantees and nothing done in accordance with the council's constitution.
  • Question is ... who allowed this to happen and why?
Meanwhile, the DVLA are set to come under more pressure as another maverick campaigns against unacceptable behaviour by public authorities.

A new dawn is breaking ... Britain's motorists are now starting to fight back and bite back and starting to win. There are a number of council officials who have thought that they could hide their behaviour behind the enormity of their office ... but the game's up and its only a matter of time before charges are laid and papers served.

Elected Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon is another man of integrity and a man of principle and is now prepared to fight the motorists fight against the authorities and unaccountable executive agencies who have been awarded power to fine without challenge.

As with decriminalised parking where local authorities have been allowed to run out of control without any scrutiny or recourse to a court of law, Ray highlights the same with the DVLA.

Big Brother casts longer shadow
Northern Echo
Friday 10th July 2009
DESPITE everything, Britain remains at heart a law-abiding, peaceful nation.
It is a country where queues are orderly and seats on buses are given up for elderly people.
So, I find it ironic, incredible even, that this tolerant, unassuming society is governed as if most citizens were invariably up to no good. State interference, through unaccountable executive agencies to which government has abdicated, rather than delegated, power is now a serious problem. That is, of course, a typical British understatement.
Readers will know I am having dealings with one of these agencies, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) over what I see as its denial of a basic legal right.
Fail to tell the DVLA you’ve sold your car and you get a £50 penalty. Having looked into this matter, I’ve concluded there appears to be no mechanism to dispute the matter or request what I always naively assumed to be a basic right, namely to have your day in court so you can test this assumption of guilt.

I’ve also found out three things. Firstly, many other people who would normally never have a cross word with authority are angry about this arbitrary behaviour. The second is that the legislation on which the DVLA bases its outrageous behaviour is badly drafted to the point of being incomprehensible.

The third and most telling point is that everyone I have spoken to believes the motive behind all this is income generation. The DVLA has collected £3m from out-of-court settlements in three years.

It is, of course, dwarfed by the amount that the Government has made from speed cameras, responsible for most of the £88m levied annually for speeding offences.
I had two conversations about speeding this week, the first with someone who believed every infringement should be punished.

The second was with a retired police officer who had done a long stint in traffic. He felt that often a word of advice or warning was more appropriate and effective than a fine. I agree with him. I do so because we understand people far better than we do machines.

A frank discussion with a police officer will make you think more about your driving habits than a fixed penalty notice. One makes you reflect on the effect your driving has on your own and other road users’ safety. The other leaves you fuming as you think about the scores of times you have had to cope with someone else’s inconsiderate or dangerous driving and seen it go unpunished.
IT’S been said that 100 years ago a lawabiding citizen could go from cradle to grave without crossing the path of officialdom.

We can’t return to those days, but we can surely do something about government agencies that irritate and alienate decent citizens by treating them as mere cash cows.

A few people take them on – Neil Herron, the Metric Martyrs campaigner, does so effectively.
We need more people to stand up and fight everyone’s corner.

I recently bought a TV, paying cash. I was told it was a legal requirement to fill in a form with my name and address. You could not think of anything dafter, so I suppose it must be right. Perhaps it’s so the TV licensing agency can send you one of the threatening letters I get people – mostly elderly and very upset people – complaining about to me. But more of that another time.
The anonymous, arbitrary agencies that control too many aspects of our lives are souring relations between government and people. They need to be reminded their prime purpose is to serve, not threaten us.

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