Chief Executive's Report
By Patrick Troy
Our focus in 2013/14 continues to be the raising of standards across the parking profession.
We have developed the outline of a ‘Professionalism in Parking Award’, which encompasses criteria for achieving higher standards across each of the niche sectors within parking. We are set to consult with our members and stakeholders on the detail of the award, which should be launched in 2015.
The framework will place the consumer at the heart of our thinking, which is one of the key strategic aims of the Association.
In the private parking sector, having established an independent appeals service and significant changes to the way the law operates in relation to private parking in 2012/13, we have continued to build on this success. POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) has been a vital part of that success, even though in the early part of the year there were some significant delays with processing appeals. These problems having been resolved, we can see that some 30,000 motorists have availed themselves of the appeals service and the outcomes of those appeals being roughly 50/50. This has driven higher standards within the sector just as it did when the appeals service was introduced into the local authority sector before it.
None of these changes would have occurred were it not for our members investing their patience and determination in the raising of these standards, and I credit them with that.
The year has also seen a significant series of public attacks by ministers in the Communities & Local Government Department in relation to local authority parking enforcement. This led to a major consultation on the future of local authority parking. We have worked closely with the Communities & Local Government Department and the Department for Transport during this period to ensure that the message is driven home that local authority parking managers work very hard to deliver their objectives of reducing congestion and improving road safety through good parking management, but also strive to promote economic success in their towns and cities.
We have also worked with the Ministry of Justice as they introduced changes to bailiff regulations, which came into force on 6th April. Although we would have preferred to have seen some independent regulation of the sector, we have accepted the government’s philosophy around ‘light touch’ regulation and worked with them to ensure a smooth transition to the new regulations.
We continue to work very closely with stakeholders representing the motorist and the consumer, involving them in the decision-making process of the Association. Our attendance at the party conferences in the autumn underlines the importance of working with politician stakeholders to define how parking should be delivered and how policy should be manufactured for the sector.
We have also continued to work closely with our Scottish, Welsh and Irish members who participate through strong groups that meet regularly in those countries. We have worked closely with the governments of those countries; and in particular in Wales have achieved some of our Master Plan objectives including the introduction of moving traffic contraventions. In Northern Ireland, we continue to work well with the Republic in developing that relationship, launching a joint Master Plan with the Irish Parking Association in September. In particular, we have worked with the ministers in Northern Ireland to find a solution to the private parking sector issues there.
Most particularly, 2013/14 will be remembered for a major change to the governance of the Association, transforming it into a more efficient, but at the same time more democratic Association, determined to represent all members’ interests but able to make decisions quickly and effectively.
Finally, I am pleased to confirm that the Association is in good financial health, with a balanced budget achieved again in 2013/14. Whilst there have been some challenges in the past with regard to income, we have resolved these for 2013/14 and have seen a much more robust management of income and expenditure through the year.
I am sure 2014/15 will continue to provide challenges for the Association, but I believe that with the development of our Business Plan, a commitment to professionalism and a first class workforce, we can only meet with success going forward.