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News and Comment February 2011

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20 February - Shock horror! One of Craske’s figures may be right - not that it helps his case much

PCNs issuedSix months ago councillor Craske was excusing his blatant and illegal profiteering with a list of figures he emailed to any resident who complained about his plan to triple parking charges within Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). Since then his figures for permit cost production, linings and markings, IT and staff accommodation have all been shown to be wrong by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. His £30,000 cost of “Traffic and Road Safety Schemes” has been shown to be the spending of the profits of the residents’ parking scheme and not expenditure on the scheme at all. Craske is now shown to be a liar through and through but one of his figures has gone unchallenged - until now.

Craske claimed the staff cost of running the scheme was £258,000 per annum, a figure which given the high overheads of employment costs these days I assumed would mean six or seven full time posts. With about ‘a half’ off sick, one on holiday it leaves around five to send out 3,000 permits each year, some penalty notices (PCNs) and deal with a few telephone calls from irate motorists and the odd appeal to be fought with the adjudicator. How many is ‘some’? I can find no exact figure but the chart taken from a council report shows that just over 5,000 PCNs were issued in residents’ bays last year. (The third column.) So with about 240 working days a year that’s 12 permits and around 20 PCNs a day. Not a lot is it for five or six people even if they do waste a lot of time having their ear chewed off by motorists and having their knuckles rapped by the adjudicator? There will be other things to do no doubt, but if these people are employed solely on CPZ related things what else is there to do but issue the permits, issue the PCNs, process them and take the occasional phone call? They don’t do enforcement, Craske accounts for that separately.

So what did the latest FOI reveal? Nothing new except that my estimate of six or seven employees based on Craske’s £258,000 a year is wrong. The true answer is ten. Not ten individuals but the equivalent of ten people based on the fact that a larger number share CPZ and non-CPZ work, but the FTE works out at ten. (Full Time Equivalents). Cushy little number isn’t it? So roughly speaking each of them issues a permit once a day and deals with a couple of PCNs. We all know that councils are inefficient but this is ridiculous. Perhaps they do their jobs meticulously and with loving care and attention? Doesn’t look like it.

Buried in the council’s expenditure record for November 2010 is the fact that they paid a six figure sum to Vincipark Services, their payment for enforcement services. But wait a minute; Bexley has not used Vincipark for nearly a year, they lost the contract to NSL. So that doesn’t look very efficient does it? On a pedantic note, in a previous analysis of Craske’s figures, I estimated the proportion of parking admin. work that comes from CPZs to be 12% of the total. On that basis it could be calculated that Craske had grossly exaggerated his figures, some might say he lied. The most recent developments, FOIs etc., have shown the true figure to be a little under 10% (just over 5,000 against 54,583 PCNs). So it seems that Craske is even further from the truth than I thought he was.

If you think Craske’s perpetual dishonesty merely brings misery to residents who have to cough up an inflated fee, think again. A lady called in to say that because he has convinced himself and his parasitic pals that the CPZ scheme is losing money he won’t install a new one even where residents are desperate to have it.


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