Posted tagged ‘parking’

Double Yellow Lies?

January 10, 2012

Double yellow row is driving me up the wall

Over the Christmas break I spent some time visiting the in-laws in London, and in doing so learnt three things. Always lock the door when you have a shower; try not to freak out when you find your clothes put away for you from your suitcase – including your underwear; and apparently there’s a bit of a row going on in Westminster about parking.

Westminster Council are sparking a bit of a media storm with their decision to replace some of their single yellow lines with their doubled-up counterparts, meaning it will be harder for some to find off-peak parking spaces. The council say that this will mostly be where drop-kerbs are located, and so will make the area much easier to access and use for wheelchair and buggy users.

Of course, this view isn’t supported by local opposition to the scheme, which is claiming that 1191 off-peak spaces will disappear and further complaining that this news was only released on 24 December, when many were packing up for Christmas and not able to respond to this in the news.

Not taking into account the fact that the internet doesn’t close for Christmas (so they were more than able to respond if they felt that strongly), and not taking into account the fact that the two interpretations of the positives and negatives are so far apart that neither is probably truly objective any more, there is something fundamental to this story which is to put it frankly angering me: the supposition that the council is not doing this for the right reasons.

Regardless of ones stand on this particular scheme, the accusations being thrown at Westminster Council are staggering, and occasionally verging on libelous. There are those who truly seem to believe that the council is trying to actively destroy their own area of the capital in any way possible, and is determined to put every small business out of business. (more…)

Just not thinking it through

March 18, 2011

Just trying to do my job...

I heard a story the other day that literally made me want to punch a wall. If ever evidence of the failures of the public sector were needed this is it.

I was spending some time with staff who work for a tele-care service. This service is designed for elderly and otherwise vulnerable people. Each one is given an emergency alarm and if they have a fall they can simply press the button and be able to speak to someone in the council’s call centre, no matter where they are in their home.

If the person who falls is in need of some assistance the tele-care service send round a member of staff with a key to get in and provide assistance. If the case is more serious and an ambulance is needed then the tele-care service call the ambulance and then get round to the house to let the ambulance in.

The staff who provide this service work on a 24 hour rota and are often called upon at any time of day or night.

This is where the problem sets in: The staff often find it difficult to park in the streets of this windy town centre and therefore often need to leave their cars in spaces for which they do not have a permit. Not a problem you might think as these staff are responding to urgent requests from members of the public. Well, you’d be wrong.

The jobsworths of the parking department (in fairness it is not necessarily the poor enforcement staff who are just following orders) refuse to give these staff members exemptions for when they are on duty and are more than happy to hand out parking fines for the staff responsible.

In another touch of bureaucratic cruelty the staff members are then left responsible for the parking fines themselves as council policy is not to refund any parking fines. So, staff who are doing their job and meeting an urgent need not only get the indignity of receiving a parking fine but are also made to pay for their own ticket.

This has got to stop: surely it is not beyond the wit of the council to give these staff a permit for the evening which tells the enforcement staff not to ticket them, surely! And if the car is dangerous the permit could even have a contact number on so that could be resolved too. It beggars belief that problems like this are still unsorted.

Come on Local Government; sometimes, you make it just too easy for Eric Pickles and co.

Buying stuff

November 22, 2010


Putting the squeeze on


Sir Philip Green, the Topshop tycoon and BFF of X Factor’s Simon Cowell, recently wrote a scathing report detailing how the Government could save a fortune if only it learnt how to procure (i.e. buy stuff) better.

The figures that Sir Philip was talking about are mind-boggling and far beyond the scope of anything I, as a relatively junior local government officer, would ever come into contact with. However, like many local government officers I have had to buy things, and many of these times have found it somewhat frustrating.

I might not like Philip Green’s abrasive approach but surely local government procurement bears no relationship to how it works in the private sector, surely.

I should state that I am not a procurement officer and therefore am not privy to all the processes that go into making a good procurement.

However, my experience of the procurement process is that it is mighty complicated.

Big procurement exercises can involve pre qualification questionnaires, lengthy submissions in response to detailed specifications, interviews with the providers, further clarification interviews, visits to local authorities who had already procured the thing we’re interested in before then eventually looking at the pricing. It can take ages and in tight projects can be a mighty pain in the backside.