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The statutory guidance issued by the Department for Transport under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 states an enforcement authority should produce an annual report detailing its enforcement activities. This is to promote openness and a better understanding of enforcement and why it is carried out.
Guildford Borough Council is the Enforcement Authority for its own off-street car parks. The Borough also acts as agent for Surrey County Council in enforcing on-street restrictions. The County Council, as Enforcement Authority for the on-street restrictions, is compiling its own annual report.
Background The borough and county councils have agreed a joint parking strategy for Guildford which provides a co-ordinated policy approach across offstreet car park provision, on-street restrictions and enforcement.
The strategy encourages the provision of park and ride and long-stay space parking outside the centre of the town and the need for short-stay space in the centre to support the economic viability of the town.
Car parks help reduce congestion by providing a focus for motorists - they don't have to drive around looking for individual spaces. In Guildford, the council provides a wide variety of parking options for motorists.
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Park and Ride sites at Artington (600) and Merrow (323) and Spectrum (during the week) and Ladymead (on Saturdays). Three main long stay car parks outside the main shopping area, at Guildford Park (400), Farnham Road (911) and York Road (600). The council also provides 16 dedicated contract car parks (over 400 spaces) at locations around the town. In addition there are 18 short-stay car parks providing over 3,000 spaces.
The car parks are used more than 3 million times each year during charging hours and many more times after 6pm and before 8am when they are free (except Farnham Road Multi-Storey).
Full details of the car parks can be found on our parking pages. Car parks need to be safe, clean and well maintained and be attractive to motorists. Nineteen of the council's car parks, over 95% of the publicly available space, have the Park Mark Safer Parking Award. The three main Park and Ride Sites, Artington, Merrow and Spectrum also have the award. The council's Parking Service was also awarded a Charter Mark for excellence in customer service in 2008/09. Enforcement Authority's report For the year 1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009, 11,975 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued for suspected contraventions of the Off Street Parking Order.
At the 1st July 2009, around 72% were paid, 18% were cancelled, 5% were written off and 6% are still open. The actual figures are presented below. PCNs are only written off where the owner of a vehicle can not be identified or contacted, or where a bailiff has been unable to collect the amount due. Table 1. Breakdown of activity on PCNs issued 2008/09
Off street parking
% of Total
Total Number of PCNs issued
Number of higher level PCNs issued
Number of lower level PCNs issued
Number paid at discount
Number paid at full (or above)
Total number of PCNs paid
Number of PCNs against which formal or informal reps made
Number of PCNs cancelled as a result of formal or informal reps
Number of PCNs cancelled for other reasons
Total Number Cancelled
Number of PCNs written off
*less than 100 due to rounding
The Guildford Parking Strategy referring to enforcement states that overall, the emphasis should be on clear signing, information and measures to reduce non-compliance but, where enforcement is necessary, it should be carried out with common sense and fairness. The consideration of motorists' comments and circumstances is an important part of ensuring the system is fair. The areas in which Penalty Charge Notices have been cancelled are set out below. Table 2. The reasons for cancelling Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)
% of those Category Number cancelled
% of all PCNs issued
Motorist who produced valid tickets which were not clearly displayed
Mitigating and other circumstances
Contract parkers and others who were entitled to park but did not display a contract permit
Machine faults and other equipment problems
Blue Badge Holders not parking according to scheme
Unable to issue due to equipment problems
PCN reissued but original cancelled
Problems with signs
*0.1% higher than table 1 due to rounding
The largest area of cancellation results from motorists who claim to have had a valid ticket. There were over 2.3 million pay and display tickets sold in the financial year and the number cancelled, 1014, is a tiny proportion of the total number of people who use pay and display.
The council's Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) carry cameras and photographs are normally taken when a Penalty Charge Notice is issued. This can provide useful evidence.
In most cases where a motorist claims to have a valid pay and display ticket, we can show that it has not been properly displayed on the vehicle. While we want to discourage people who try to avoid payment, we understand mistakes can happen. Where there is enough evidence that the motorist made the correct payment but failed to properly display a ticket, the PCN will usually be cancelled.
There are plans to convert two of the council's busiest short stay car parks to a pay on foot system and this will reduce the need for motorists to display a ticket. Officers are also looking at different styles of pay and display tickets to see whether the situation can be improved still further.
Motorists ask the council to consider cancelling a PCN for a wide range of reasons. Trained officers consider each letter received carefully. If they decide that the reasons are justified, the charge is cancelled. In most cases, the CEO just sees the vehicle and is not aware of what the motorist is doing at the time or problems they may have encountered. Contract parkers pay for a dedicated space and have a permit displaying the number of that space which can be used with any vehicle. A CEO will issue a Penalty Charge Notice to any vehicle in the space not displaying the right permit. If it is later found that the vehicle was authorised to use the space the PCN is usually cancelled.
The car park machinery is in constant use and the council has an agreement with its main equipment supplier to keep an engineer on site to service the equipment and address any problems quickly. Used over 3 million times a year it is inevitable that the equipment will fail occasionally. If we are satisfied that this is a reason for a motorist receiving a PCN, it is normally cancelled.
One of our main priorities is to make sure spaces provided for Blue Badge Holders are used properly. In the past year a number of altered or copied badges have been uncovered. Sometimes, genuine users can forget to display their badge or accidentally conceal it. Careful consideration is given and if the badge holder has made this sort of error the PCN is usually cancelled.
Occasionally CEOs do make errors. This can be in the details recorded to support a contravention and does not necessarily mean that a contravention did not occur. All CEOs are fully trained and any errors are reported back to them so they are aware and can avoid making the same mistake again.
Overall, the number of errors by CEOs are low, less than 1%. There is a relatively low rate of correspondence relating to Penalty Charge Notices and a payment rate of almost 72%. Financial analysis of off-street enforcement
Expenditure Employee Related Premise Related Transport Related Supplies and Services Support Services Total Expenditure Income from Penalty Charges Net Expenditure
£ 248,548 10,165 1,555 48,998 28,986 338,252 282,397 55,855
Parking enforcement in Guildford plays an important part in ensuring that the car parks operate effectively and the shortfall is covered by income from the car parks.
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