Here’s a shocker – for five out of the last seven financial years, On Street parking has NOT made money for Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC). In fact, it’s made a loss. The loss is equivalent to the Council’s Chief Executive – Dr Susan Priest – annual salary including fees and allowances of £149,000, four times over.
Neither On Street or Off Street Parking is delivering Value for Money – quelle surprise.
In 2012/13 former Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Malcolm Dearden said the first NSL Ltd contract would save money and be value for money when it started on the 1st April 2012. Overall savings were expected to be £300,000 over the term of the contract. These savings were not achieved. No Value for Money exercise was undertaken by officers, Cllrs or the Cabinet on the contract. The contract went onto make a loss of £361,000, over the four years it ran. With a loss like that it is clear the contract did not achieve value for money.
Disregarding this fact FHDC awarded NSL with a second contract for £2,838,578 to provide parking enforcement services which started on, 01/04/2017. It too has not been a financial success. It has made a loss to date of £235,000 so has NOT achieved Value for Money for the rate payer of the district.
The combined loss over the two contracts is £596,000.
Nobody loves a parking ticket, and being a parking enforcement officer (traffic warden) is a high risk occupation.
On street car parking across the district has seen 15,238 Parking Charge Notices (PCN) issued by FHDCs contractor NSL Ltd.
The total expected income for On Street Parking, from PCNs, was £831,513, in 2019/20. However, FHDC collected just 46% or £382,749. Meaning they did not collect 54% or £448,764 of the monies for PCNs on street.
Off Street parking in the 31 council owned car parks, saw 6,342 Parking Charge Notices (PCN) issued in 2019/20. The car park where most PCNs were issued, nine hundred and fifty seven (957), was Upper Payers Park car park, Folkestone.
The total amount of PCNs issued in car parks across the district which were paid was 3,298. This represents 52% or £123,186 monies paid by those issued with a PCN in an FHDC owned car park in 2019/20. Of course this means that 3,044 PCNs equivalent to 48% or £113,795 was not recovered.
Of the 31 car parks owned by FHDC, 26 of them are where customers have to pay. The income in 2019/20 for all 26 car parks was £1,377,657.
The car park which collected the most by income total was Sandgate Rd Car Park, Folkestone, collecting £162,893. However, that is not the whole story.
If one breaks the figures down by Machine Income and RingGo (the app used by FHDC), then Mount Street Car Park (next to the old Aldi’s in Hythe) brought in the most machine income of £131,825. And Tram Rd Car park Folkestone brought in most income via the RingGo app £62,769, in 2019/20.
The car park which brought in the least combined income was the Sea Point car park at the top of Princes Parade. It collected a combined total of just £3,867.
It is time both Foreign HGV PCN recovery rates, and UK PCN recover rates, be brought before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and the Audit & Goverance Committee, on a quarterly basis. This would allow Cllrs to determine if their contractor is achieving Value for Money. Plus a little more transparency might help recovery rates climb? Who knows!
PCNs issued and recovery rates must become a mandatory published Key Performance Indicator to allow Cllrs and residents to see if value for money is being achieved, by those tasked with it.
The Cabinet Member portfolio holder for Transport is Cllr David Godfrey (Con). In 2019/20 he received £16,112 in allowances and expenses. David is responsible for on and off street parking. He also happens to be the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Housing and has overseen the mess at East Kent Housing. We would ask if he really is Cabinet material given the known facts about the management of his portfolio’s.
Is David Cabinet material?
The Corporate Director responsible for On Street & Off Street Parking is Andy Blaszkowicz, Director of Housing and Operations. His annual salary, including fees and allowances is £107,000.
Some of Andy’s alleged skills are:
Very strong on financial control,
forecasting and Profit & Loss
trusted to turnaround under- performing contracts
It appears to us, those alleged skills appear non-existent with regards to PCN recovery rates and probably East Kent Housing costs.
Is Andy fit to be a Corporate Director?
Value for Money appears in the Council’s constitution nine times. On four of these occasions it states:
Cllrs and Council employees… “should strive to ensure value for money to the local community”.
All councillors and officers have a general responsibility to provide value for money and achieve best value.
That value for money is achieved.
To prevent waste and promote good value for money.
Good governance is essential. It is crucial in achieving value for money. To make both the foreign HGV PCN issued, plus recovery rates and the UK PCN issued and recovery rates visible to the public, would allow them to see if value for money has been achieved by Cllrs and Officers alike.
It is now up to our Cllrs & Officers to bring these issue into the light of day, and begin the journey in making these issues more transparent. Residents deserve to know if Folkestone & Hythe District Council is achieving Value for Money.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful