Chief Executive's Report
By Patrick Troy
The year 2012/13 has seen the BPA continue to deliver on its 5 year business plan.
In particular, the most significant piece of work in establishing a framework of excellence for the parking profession has begun in earnest. The objective is clear – to raise standards and to deliver professionalism within the sector. The means of achieving that objective is less clear, and we have worked hard this year with members and stakeholders to set in place a framework which will be valued not just by our members but by their stakeholders and customers. As we move into 2013/14, I believe the framework will be much better understood, valued, and indeed cherished by many of our members and those who look to the BPA to lead the parking sector to those higher standards. The framework truly places the consumer at the heart of our thinking, which is one of the key strategic aims of the Association.
A significant development in the year was the coming into force of the Protection of Freedoms Act, which included provisions for the banning of clamping and towing away on private land, but established the principle of keeper liability to identify the driver as a result of ticketing on private land. The government asked us to establish an independent appeals service to provide further redress for motorists before they implemented the provisions of the Act in relation to keeper liability. That service – known as PoPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) – was established on time and on budget, and began to deliver the redress that members have been calling for some considerable time. Whilst the delivery of PoPLA and its early performance was less than perfect, I believe in the long run we will look back at this year as the year that there was a step change in the way the private parking sector both operates and is seen by the public. We have established an historic change to the way this much maligned sector performs, and have truly placed it on the road to greater professionalism. I credit our members with their patience and their determination to see this through.
The negotiations that took place with Government over the development of these provisions has placed the BPA in an excellent position to work with and influence the Department for Transport on matters that are truly important to our members. At the same time we have built relationships with the Department for Communities and Local Government, as the government’s review of the health of Britain’s high streets continues to dominate Government policy. We have also worked closely with the Ministry of Justice as they published and implemented their transformation of bailiff services, and we have worked closely with agencies like the Office of Fair Trading as well as, of course, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, who accredit us for the release of keeper records to our private sector members.
In particular, we have cemented our relationship with the stakeholders representing the motorist and the consumer, particularly in relation to issues surrounding private car parking. Our attendance at the party conferences in the autumn underlined the importance of working with politicians and stakeholders to define how parking should be delivered and how policy should be manufactured for the sector.
Because of the government’s determination to address the health of Britain’s high streets, we established a new special interest group for our members in 2012/13 which draws together our traditional members with those representing the retail sector, including shopping centre managers and those who deliver services to them.
We have also continued to work closely with our Scottish, Welsh and Irish members, who participate through strong groups which meet regularly in those countries. We have worked closely with the governments of those countries and, in particular, have scored some successes in Wales where the delivery of some of our key master plan objectives have finally been realised. In Northern Ireland we continue to work well with the Republic in developing that relationship, and have been pleased to support the Irish Parking Association in their preparation for this year’s European Parking Association Congress in Dublin in September.
Finally, I am pleased to confirm that the association is in good financial health, with a balanced budget achieved again in 2012/13. Whilst there have been some challenges in relation particularly to income as we hold our nerve during a difficult economic time for our members, we nevertheless have achieved reductions in expenditure to meet any reductions in income. The area of risk is the Independent Appeals Service, which we fund through a levy on our members. We will continue to monitor that budget to ensure that it does not affect our overall financial prudence.
2013/14 will continue to be a challenge for the association, but I believe, with the development of our business plan, a commitment to professionalism and a stable, hardworking and first class workforce, we can only meet with success going forward.