On Wednesday I spent the afternoon with two of Ealing’s parking attendants. As a part of the Parking Services Specialist Scrutiny Panel some of the panel members are doing some “mystery shopping” and activities such as ride alongs to get a first hand feel of what it is like to be on the receiving end of this service. I spent two hour with two of the parking attendants and then we met up with Lucy Proctor from the Gazette. I was impressed with the two guys I met – Michael Lester a 7 year veteran and John Thomson who has done 4 years. Michael in particular had a great manner so it does not surprise me that he has only felt under physical threat from the public once in his 7 year service.
I clipped this picture from Friday’s Gazette. Michael is on the left and John on the right with Lucy in the middle and my face mercifully obscured.
There is a real problem with the pay and display machines in Southall. Something like 8 out of 10 of the ones we looked at were not working. This is not a case of the council being dilatory. Someone is systematically interfering with these machines – either so that they can park for free or to come back later for change. The guys handled this situation well and did not even think of ticketing people in these circumstances. They spent some time telling people how they should put a note in their windscreen and re-assuring them.
On another pay and display bay we saw a van with its wheels fully on the adjacent double yellow line. I would have thought that this deserved a ticket, but no. We did give out some tickets. A guy in the Herbert Road multi-storey car park had parked at an angle across two bays – a fair cop in my view. Another guy in a CPZ with no voucher – another fair cop. The guy came back and was philosophical about his ticket. At the end of the beat there was some parking on the Broadway that ended at 4pm to allow traffic to flow out of town. Too many users had not checked the plate before parking and the machine is too dumb to stop giving out tickets. A couple of PCNs were issued here and this caused a couple of “interactions” with the public. This was a tough one. The sign was entirely clear – no parking after 4pm, no ifs, no buts. On the other hand the public think that if the machine gives out a ticket they have an out.
Michael and John were exemplary. They are both very experienced and I am sure that there are many less experienced parking attendants at work in Ealing. I met one of them. Abdul was coming to the end of his second day on the job after his two weeks training. He felt confident that he had been well trained but the other guys were keeping an eye on him which was re-assuring.
The second meeting of the panel will focus on customers’ experience of Parking Services – hence the work described above. The session will also involve council officers and give members of the public the chance to share their experiences. If you are interested in attending then please get in touch with Chris Cheyne at or on (020) 8825 6568. A maximum of 100 people will be admitted to the meeting. The meeting will take place a 7pm on 11th September.
For the third meeting on 15th November we will focus exclusively on the finances of Parking Services and try to address the often raised issue that Parking Services is just there to squeeze money out of drivers. No doubt the agenda for the subsequent meetings will be driven by whatever feedback we get from the public at the earlier meetings.
Anyway if you are interested in this topic here are the dates:
- Tuesday 11th September 2007
- Thursday 15th November 2007
- Thursday 10th January 2008
- Wednesday 5th March 2008
All the meetings take place at 7pm at the Town Hall.
Please note that at these meetings we will be raising and discussing general problems and principles, not the specifics of any particular penalty charge notice.
Reference: Fort Lauderdale area traffic attorney.