Friday, May 13, 2011

Nice work if you can get it ...

Just had Yosser Hughes on the phone asking for Merton's contact details ...

Seems as though the way the consultant sees the way to save money is to 'improve the chances of a PCN being issued' rather than streamlining back-office processes ... or am I missing something?

£85k consultant set to cut Merton Council parking costs amid charges hike
Wimbledon Guardian
Friday 13th May 2011

By Omar Oakes
A management consultant is being paid £85,000 for 12 weeks’ work in an attempt to make the council’s parking department “better value for money” – but critics have questioned whether the outcome will be good news for motorists.

The consultant, drafted in from CapGemini, is looking at how to cut back-office costs in Merton Council’s parking services department.

The department, which current employs 58 full-time staff, spends £2.8m but last year made £9.3m from parking charges, fines and permits.

But Neil Herron, founder of parking control watchdog Parking Appeals, said he was concerned Merton would end up making changes to maximise parking revenue rather than offer a cheaper service.

He said: “Once they’ve made these changes, will it be cheaper to park? Will fewer parking tickets be issued? Will the number of complaints go down? I doubt it.

“The best way to improve the service is to have better signage and an efficient and transparent appeals system.”

Last year the council made £9.5m from car park tickets, parking permits and fines – and motorists have already been hit with higher costs through this year’s budget.

Free parking in some council car parks was cut from 20 minutes to 10 minutes and the imposition of controlled parking zones on Saturdays was announced for residents living in Merton Park.

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Mark Betteridge, said it was “working hard to transform services and to ensure it provides the very best value for money for residents”.

He said the review was funded from the transformation budget established under the previous [Conservative] administration.

He said: “This review will more than pay for itself as we look to implement the proposed changes that will reduce back-office costs.

“This will help in our drive to keep Merton’s running costs down so we can continue to maintain essential services and keep council tax low for our residents.”

But Rosemary McLaughlin, Merton Council branch secretary for trade union Unison, said: “It is outrageous in the current climate to engage even more consultants at the cost of £85,000.

"It would be expected in-house management with inflated salaries and pay increases would have the skills to transform any service within the council.”

In October, the Wimbledon Guardian revealed Merton Council was condemned by the Parking and Appeals Traffic Service for “underhand tactics”, after a traffic warden used an unmarked civilian car and issued a parking fine to a motorist after hardly any grace period.

And in March, papers released during Merton Council's 2011/12 budget showed the parking service had proposed a number of changes to take effect during this financial year.

Merton Council's proposed changes to parking services and enforcement:

1.Removal 20 min free parking at Pay and Display machines
2.Enforcement by mobile CCTV
3.Introduce borough-wide trade/business permit
4.New person set up charge for the issue of parking permits
5.Increase cost of business permits
6.Reduce observation time from five minutes to two minutes before the issue of a Parking Control Notice (PCN)
7.Review existing parking tariffs for Wimbledon Town Centre Car Parks and expand to all borough car parks
8.Increase by an average of 10% all On Street pay and display tariffs
9.Review all on street Pay and Display tariff structures
10.Expansion of Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) coverage subject to consultation
11.Increase enforcement at bus lanes
What do you think? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email:

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