Members are asked to note and comment on the Car Parking Enforcement update provided by Damian James, Assistant Director: Contract Services.
Members received an update on parking enforcement managed via Council contractors SABA, who recently changed their name from Indigo. As well as managing the Councils’ car parking facilities SABA have responsibility for parking enforcement both on street and off street. They can only enforce parking restrictions where traffic regulations are in force. It was noted parking Civil Enforcement Officers were not directly employed by the Council anymore. SABA currently employed five Civil Enforcement Officers. It was acknowledged this was not an easy role to recruit to due to verbal abuse and Bracknell’s low unemployment rate, but they were fully staffed at present. In terms of car parking enforcement around schools visits were carried out on a rotational basis every six weeks. Officers had recently met with representatives from Thames Valley Police and were planning to carry out joint visits at particular schools where issues had been reported. Whilst restrictions were in place around schools these were often ignored as parents stayed in their vehicles to drop off and Civil Enforcement Officers had a five minute observation period prior to issuing a penalty charge notice. Members were advised information was available on the website and via email to request additional enforcement in an area if the public or members wanted to raise an issue. This went straight onto the SABA database and would form part of a future patrol. If a vehicle was thought to be abandoned the public should contact DVLA or Thames Valley Police (TVP) if it was an obstruction.
Following discussions the following questions and comments were made:
· Members asked how Civil Enforcement Officers worked with TVP and were informed joint visits were undertaken where TVP had an interest e.g a car was stolen or involved in a crime. Members queried if this also applied to a car abandoned on a highway but was taxed? Damian James, Assistant Director: Contract Services stated if a vehicle was abandoned or blocking a driveway TVP would have to be interested.
· Members asked if Civil Enforcement Officers could get involved if a car was blocking the path of people with buggies going past and were informed this would only happen if a TRO was in place. If not, it should be reported as an obstruction.
· It was queried how many times an issue had to be logged before Civil Enforcement Officers acted upon it and were informed SABA act upon every issue identified, even if only reported once.
· Members wanted to know if Civil Enforcement Officers had any discretion to deal with verbal abuse? Damian James, Assistant Director: Contract Services, said Civil Enforcement Officers were advised to call the police in that instance and it was at their discretion. He thought fines were £60 or £30 if paid within 14 days but would check exact costs and clarify at the next meeting.
· It was noted Civil Enforcement Officers used a number of body cameras to help with evidence gathering.
· Members asked if SABA had access to the DVLA database and were informed they do.
· A discussion took place about Disabled Parking Bays being abused. If it was a Bracknell Forest Council car park Civil Enforcement Officers could enforce but not if it was on private land. It was also noted some residents were unaware the Council had no enforcement capabilities in private car parks, including regulating use of Disabled Parking Bays.
· Members thanked officers for putting in place a TRO order which had a positive effect around a local school (including yellow lines and waiting times in morning and afternoon) as previously parents in cars had blocked paths.
· Members asked how long it took to train a Civil Enforcement Officer and were informed it took four weeks and included test papers to understand the legislation as well as shadowing another Civil Enforcement Officer.
· Turnover was reasonably high and was disappointing when time and money had been invested in someone. However, it was recognised it was a challenging role and there were some excellent Civil Enforcement Officers at present.
Damian James, Assistant Director: Contract Services to check the cost of penalty charge notices and confirm with members.