This report is due to be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday, 4th June 2020. There is the possibility that the Overview and Scrutiny committee will amend the recommendations. Any changes agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be reported to the Executive Committee in an extract from the minutes of the meeting, which will be included in a supplementary pack for the meeting.
Councillor Mark Shurmer, Chair of the Parking Enforcement Task Group, presented the group’s final report. The Committee was informed that during the review Members had gathered evidence from a range of sources including Council Officers, Worcestershire County Council, Wychavon District Council, which delivered the parking enforcement service in Redditch on Redditch Borough Council’s behalf, and scrutiny reports issued by other Councils on the subject. The group had consulted with other Borough Councillors by circulating a survey, which had revealed that parking problems were frequently reported to Members representing wards across the Borough, particularly in respect of parking near schools. Each member of the group had also spent time accompanying a Civil Parking Enforcement Officer during a shift working in Redditch and this experience had been very informative.
The review of parking enforcement had been launched following discussion at a meeting of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, where problems with parking in the Borough had been raised as a concern by Members. The group had initially focused on the Council’s contract with Worcestershire County Council to provide the parking enforcement service in Redditch. Members were asked to note that the service could not generate a profit that would benefit the Council; any excess revenue generated by the service over the costs of delivering the service had to be returned to Worcestershire County Council. However, there had been years where the service had operated at a financial loss and in those instances Redditch Borough Council had to cover the costs.
Members were advised that the group had proposed five recommendations all of which had been based on evidence gathered during the review. In presenting the group’s recommendations to the Executive Committee one of these recommendations, recommendation 4 in the Task Group’s report, had been presented in two parts; whilst the Executive Committee could determine to send paper copies of the group’s report to the County Councillors representing a division in Redditch, only Worcestershire County Council could decide whether road markings should be discussed at a forthcoming meeting of the Redditch Highways Forum, as proposed by the group.
Following presentation of the report the Chair explained that, at a recent meeting of the Worcestershire Leaders’ Board he had already mentioned the issue of parking enforcement and the need for more Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to be introduced for the zigzag lines located outside schools. There had been general consensus amongst the other Leaders present at the meeting that this would be a suitable subject for further discussion as there was the same problem across the county.
The Committee subsequently discussed the group’s report in detail. The hard work of the group was recognised, and Members welcomed the majority of the group’s findings. Members noted that this was an issue that had implications for all wards, as Members frequently received complaints about problem parking, and action to address this problem could help to enhance community safety.
However, during consideration of this item concerns were raised about the group’s proposal that Redditch Borough Council should fund an additional Civil Enforcement Officer post dedicated to enforcement action around schools, to work term-time only. Whilst it was acknowledged that this recommendation was contingent on the group’s first proposal being successfully implemented, whereby Worcestershire County Council would request and receive extra funding to introduce TROs for the zigzag lines outside schools, concerns were highlighted about the financial implications of the additional post for Redditch Borough Council. Members noted that a Civil Enforcement Officer’s appearance could deter problem parking whilst they were visibly present which would mean that there was no guarantee there would be sufficient income to cover the costs of the post.
In this context an amendment was proposed by Councillor Mike Rouse to recommendation two in the Task group’s report (recommendation five in the covering report) as follows:
“that, subject to the successful implementation of Recommendation 1 above, and following a scoped trial period, Redditch Borough Council should consider funding an additional Civil Enforcement Officer post dedicated to enforcement action around schools to work term-time only.”
This amendment was seconded by Councillor Brandon Clayton.
In proposing the amendment Councillor Rouse explained that the action required through the amended wording would result in a trial being undertaken, whereby enforcement action would be focused on schools during the trial period. This would enable the Council to obtain data about the impact of the enforcement action and that data would inform any decision on whether to introduce an additional Civil Enforcement Officer in the future. He also noted that TROs could take significant time to introduce and this would provide an opportune time to undertake a trial as proposed in the amendment
In seconding the amendment Councillor Clayton raised concerns about the lack of data underpinning the proposal to introduce an extra Civil Enforcement Officer, as proposed by the group.
Members subsequently discussed the amendment and during this discussion the following points were raised:
· The need for Redditch Borough Council to work with Worcestershire County Council in respect of enforcement action around schools.
· The number of Officers already employed to deliver the parking enforcement service in Redditch, at 1.8 full time equivalent (fte) staff and their potential to participate in the proposed trial.
· The extent to which the existing Civil Enforcement Officers had capacity to undertake additional enforcement work around schools.
· The number of schools in the Borough and the arrangements that would need to be put in place to enable the Civil Enforcement Officers to undertake enforcement action at different schools during the trial period.
· The benefits of gathering data during a trial period in respect of issues such as the length of time that vehicles were parked on double yellow lines. Members noted that should a vehicle be parked for less than three minutes on double yellow lines no enforcement action could be taken.
· The potentially positive impact that an additional Civil Enforcement Officer could have when working near schools.
· The concerns raised by some Members about the impact that not introducing an additional officer post could have on community safety near schools. Some Members noted that they were opposed to the amendment.
· The fact that some parking infringements were the police’s responsibility to address. In these instances, Civil Enforcement Officers could not take enforcement action.
On being put to the vote the amendment was carried.
1) at a meeting of Worcestershire Leaders’ Board, the Leader should raise the need to introduce Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) for all zigzag road markings outside schools in the county. As part of this process the Leader should formally request that Worcestershire County Council write to the Secretary of State for Transport to request that additional, ring-fenced funding be provided to Worcestershire County Council that can be invested in introducing these additional TROs;
2) Officers from Redditch Borough Council work with Worcestershire County Council, local schools and West Mercia Police to develop a strategy to tackle problem parking near schools;
3) all Worcestershire County Councillors representing a Redditch division should be provided with a copy of the group’s final report to facilitate a discussion of this subject at a Redditch Highways Forum meeting;
4) training in respect of parking enforcement arrangements in the Borough should be provided in a single training session each municipal year as part of the member induction programme. New elected Members should be offered the opportunity to shadow a Civil Parking Enforcement Officer;
5) subject to the successful implementation of Recommendation 1 above, and following a scoped trial period, Redditch Borough Council should consider funding an additional Civil Enforcement Officer post dedicated to enforcement action around schools to work term-time only; and
6) to Worcestershire County Council, that the need for road markings to be replaced as soon as possible after resurfacing work has been undertaken should be discussed at a forthcoming Redditch Highways Forum meeting.