Council’s On Street Parking Contract lost £600,000 in five of the last seven financial years

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.

Screenshot from 2020-08-19 15-05-50

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.

Parking charge

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.

Screenshot from 2020-08-19 14-32-06

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.

Screenshot from 2020-08-19 13-16-03

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.

Screenshot from 2020-08-19 13-41-01

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?

Cllr David Godfrey 2  Andy Blazokiwicz 2

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

About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
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6 Comments on Council’s On Street Parking Contract lost £600,000 in five of the last seven financial years

  1. Another thorough expose of the incompetence of Officers and Cllrs falling to get value for money for the ratepayer, from this particular contract.

    It’s clear that some have certainly been promoted to their level of incompetence, as per the

      Peter Principle

    Let’s not forget

      The Dunning-Kruger effect

    , which is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability is truly evidenced.

    Keep up the good work

  2. Lean Dipstick // August 20, 2020 at 14:04 // Reply

    Obviously the only winner here is NSL who have profitted from the service. It’s clearly time to abandon the charging regime that was introduced several years ago and return to free on-street parking as it was previously. It has failed and any sensible council chamber would recognise and accept that.

  3. Roy Gould
    About 15 years ago I investigated council parking charges when I got a couple of parking tickets. I found that the council had no right to issue PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) where they did because there were no Traffic Orders permitting them to do so! Yellow lines had been painted without authority so any PCNs issued to vehicles on those lines were illegal. I also looked into the costs of the off-street parking costs in New Romney and according to the council figures the average cost per car in New Romney was about 60p per day. It would have been cheaper to make the whole lot free. What Vox hasn’t mentioned is how many PCNs have been issued and successfully appealed. so far I’ve had about 10 in Shepway over the years, each one appealed, each one successful. I don’t know how much this has cost the council and their contractors over the years in having to deal with the appeal paperwork then dealing with the adjudicator and their fees

  4. I forgot to mention that any “profit” made from parking charges should be ploughed back into public transport if my memory serves me correctly. It should NOT be lost in the council coffers. The previous contractor was NCP, they too cocked up, as did the firm before them.

    • shepwayvox // August 21, 2020 at 08:40 // Reply

      Your memory serves you well RG. Under section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 provides for how surpluses generated in respect of parking charges may be applied and regulations will provide, with modification, that section 55 will apply in respect of any surpluses (which may or may not arise) from the further forms of civil enforcement.

  5. doggerbank56 // August 21, 2020 at 11:16 // Reply

    When I want to park in Folkestone town centre I go to the Sainsbury’s car park where I can park for 2 hours provided I spend £5 in the store. I wonder if Andy Blaskowicz and his staff have blinkers on their eyes because, the losses being incurred by the Council on this contract will just increase our Council tax bills. If he was managing a business in this manner he would be sacked!

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