A CAMPAIGNER has called for transparency over controversial parking fines after it emerged the council has not been producing annual reports.
Road safety campaigner Richard Heneghan believes the council should be publishing Annual Parking Enforcement Reports to enable fair scrutiny of Coventry City Council’s performance.
Such reports usually shows how many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) have been issued that year, the amount that was paid and how much money the council gained and lost in parking enforcement.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request seen by the Coventry Observer reveals the council has only produced the annual report twice since 2010.
A council spokesperson in the FoI response says: “Please also note that we are no longer required to provide an annual report in the format that it was previously produced.”
But the government’s transport select committee said last year: “Local authorities must dispel any misunderstandings on parking finance.
“Annual reports are a key part of this and all local authorities should produce them.”
Many councils which publish reports annually cite the importance of them for ‘transparency’ – and informing the public of their rights.
The council’s last report was compiled in 2015/16.
Mr Heneghan claims other councils also attend meetings at PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London) – a joint committee designed for the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) lawyers to offer guidance on car parking enforcement.
Coventry council is one of 300 members but did not send a representative to meetings between May 2016 and January last year, Mr Heneghan says.
It has only been present at five meetings since PATROL’s conception in 2012.
The council has been dogged with controversy over its bus gates which were ruled to display ‘inadequate’ signage and road markings.
TPT lawyers said the signs failed to properly inform drivers they were entering a bus gate – for which they would receive a fine.
This was followed by another storm over the ‘misleading’ city centre Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) scheme, and its inadequate signage – which was also blasted by the TPT.
The council has raised millions of pounds from these schemes and others, prompting concerns that some motorists are being unfairly fined.
As we reported in March, the number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) has risen from 36,000 in 2009/10 to 112,000 by 2017/18 – more than tripling in nine years.
Mr Heneghan said: “So after several years of well-publicised parking and bus gate issues, we now learn that the council has continuously failed to turn up to the quarterly national parking and bus gate enforcement meetings.
“To compound this, the non-attendance coincides with the cessation of the council’s official annual parking reports, brought in by legislation to ensure transparency and accountability.
“Meanwhile, other councils continue to publish their data via comprehensive annual reports to ensure the data and service performance (or lack of) may be scrutinised.
“Coventry; signage missed, enforcement committee meetings missed, annual parking reports missed – it was only ever going to end up in a mess, wasn’t it?
“Coventry needs parking and bus gate scrutiny more than ever, not less.”
Coventry City Council has declined to comment.
Support community journalism by making a contribution
The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source of news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.
Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.
Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.