Merton Council refuses to publish traffic warden's 'bible'

Council refuses to publish traffic warden's 'bible'

Council refuses to publish traffic warden's 'bible'

First published in Parking Madness by

Merton Council has refused to publish the advice it gives traffic wardens on how flexible they should be in interpreting parking bylaws.

After reporting many extraordinary tales from motorists, the Wimbledon Guardian launched its Parking Madness series this year to highlight these stories and hold the authority to account.

Merton Council, like all councils, is given statutory guidance by the Department for Transport (2004) stating it should publish parking protocols to show motorists it is exercising its powers “flexibly and judge each case on its merits”.

In July, a council spokeswoman said this document comprised a handbook given to civil enforcement officers (CEOs), but would not release a copy.

Known as an Enforcement Code of Practice, or traffic warden's 'bible', it is readily available on other London councils' websites, including Richmond-upon-Thames, Westminster, and Islington.

Last month, our request under the Freedom of Information Act was also rejected, on the grounds that more detailed guidance would be published “by the end of the year”.

We spoke to a former Merton parking warden about what guidance he was given about flexibility during his six years issuing tickets until he retired – at a time when the council went from having eight CEOs to 31 today.

He said: “There used to be a handbook.

“They had about three sheets of A4 when I was a parking officer which was their firm but fair policy, but where that is now I have no idea.

“Someone showed it to me. It wasn’t particularly comprehensive.

“I was always told that we always gave five minutes before giving someone a ticket – that’s where that came from.

“What have they got to hide?”

Comments (5)

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9:29am Mon 15 Oct 12

Tobermory says...

The Secretary of State actually recommends in his guidance on parking enforcement that any discretion should rest with back office staff, this prevents any allegations of inconsistency in enforcing on street. The civil enforcement of parking is designed to avoid traffic wardens having to make a personal judgement if a vehicle is parked in contravention of the rules, your ticket is either valid or expired, you are parked in a bay where you shouldn't be or you are not, on a yellow line or not, what is there for them to be given advice on? The law and how is should be applied along with exemptions is set out in the highway code and local traffic orders which are available to everyone. I very much doubt the Council gives any staff written instructions to ignore anyone breaking the law nor I expect would most law abiding residents want them to.
I find the Guardians 'parking madness' campaign rather baffling, what exactly is the point? Everyday half the defendants at Wimbledon Magistrates Court are found NOT guilty of criminal charges, why not have a 'Police madness' campaign? Surely being accused and facing a criminal record wrongly is far more serious than a £100 parking ticket?
If finding a council car legally parked on yellow lines is the best the Guardian can do in the way of journalism then its a rather poor excuse for a 'news'paper.
The Secretary of State actually recommends in his guidance on parking enforcement that any discretion should rest with back office staff, this prevents any allegations of inconsistency in enforcing on street. The civil enforcement of parking is designed to avoid traffic wardens having to make a personal judgement if a vehicle is parked in contravention of the rules, your ticket is either valid or expired, you are parked in a bay where you shouldn't be or you are not, on a yellow line or not, what is there for them to be given advice on? The law and how is should be applied along with exemptions is set out in the highway code and local traffic orders which are available to everyone. I very much doubt the Council gives any staff written instructions to ignore anyone breaking the law nor I expect would most law abiding residents want them to. I find the Guardians 'parking madness' campaign rather baffling, what exactly is the point? Everyday half the defendants at Wimbledon Magistrates Court are found NOT guilty of criminal charges, why not have a 'Police madness' campaign? Surely being accused and facing a criminal record wrongly is far more serious than a £100 parking ticket? If finding a council car legally parked on yellow lines is the best the Guardian can do in the way of journalism then its a rather poor excuse for a 'news'paper. Tobermory
  • Score: -1

10:46am Mon 15 Oct 12

GR-London says...

Since parking control was decriminalised by Margaret Thatcher, almost all councils across the country have exploited the situation as a revenue stream and the way that parking control is implemented basically comes down to extortion.

If we lived in a genuinely fair and democratic country run by honest politicians, they would react to the councils lack of transparency and abuse of power and make some new laws to bring about some balance and accountability.

You would think that Robert Mugabe runs the UK.
Since parking control was decriminalised by Margaret Thatcher, almost all councils across the country have exploited the situation as a revenue stream and the way that parking control is implemented basically comes down to extortion. If we lived in a genuinely fair and democratic country run by honest politicians, they would react to the councils lack of transparency and abuse of power and make some new laws to bring about some balance and accountability. You would think that Robert Mugabe runs the UK. GR-London
  • Score: 1

11:05am Mon 15 Oct 12

Tobermory says...

Just been to look at the Richmond council parking guidelines which Omar states are online and found...

Parking Charter

Please note that due to many new parking initiatives for our residents, the Charter is currently being reviewed by our Members. When available, the Parking Charter for 2011 will be displayed here.

http://www.richmond.
gov.uk/home/transpor
t_and_streets/parkin
g/parking_contact_de
tails/parking_charte
r.htm

Last updated May 2011, great reporting as usual Omar!
Just been to look at the Richmond council parking guidelines which Omar states are online and found... Parking Charter Please note that due to many new parking initiatives for our residents, the Charter is currently being reviewed by our Members. When available, the Parking Charter for 2011 will be displayed here. http://www.richmond. gov.uk/home/transpor t_and_streets/parkin g/parking_contact_de tails/parking_charte r.htm Last updated May 2011, great reporting as usual Omar! Tobermory
  • Score: 0

1:58pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Smart Cookie says...

Two things remain puzzling.

The first is why Merton Council deems itself free to disregard its duties under the Freedom of Information Act and to have had NOT available for the public to see some traffic orders as the law requires of them.

The second is to wonder which local authority Tobermory is paid by to spring to the rapid defence of local authorities as he does every time issues of parking enforcement irregularities is reported.
Two things remain puzzling. The first is why Merton Council deems itself free to disregard its duties under the Freedom of Information Act and to have had NOT available for the public to see some traffic orders as the law requires of them. The second is to wonder which local authority Tobermory is paid by to spring to the rapid defence of local authorities as he does every time issues of parking enforcement irregularities is reported. Smart Cookie
  • Score: 1

2:22pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Smart Cookie says...

A follow-up to my previous observations.

If Tobermory were a little less self-righteous and a little more diligent he would find the Richmond information referred to by reporter Omar at http://www.richmond.
gov.uk/home/transpor
t_and_streets/parkin
g/parking_fines.htm
A follow-up to my previous observations. If Tobermory were a little less self-righteous and a little more diligent he would find the Richmond information referred to by reporter Omar at http://www.richmond. gov.uk/home/transpor t_and_streets/parkin g/parking_fines.htm Smart Cookie
  • Score: 0

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