PARKING wardens have been told they must increase the number of tickets they issue in Portsmouth – or face disciplinary action.
Portsmouth City Council has effectively set a target of 35,188 tickets which must be paid for, an increase of more than 4,000 on last year’s figure.
The council says the request, which could raise almost £2.5m per year, is not a target, but a way to judge staff performance.
But officers have reacted angrily, saying the measure is to raise money for the council’s parking services department.
One officer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘We’ve been told we must issue 5.6 tickets per shift, or 926 per year. It’s to make parking services self-funded, because of budget cuts. But targets are illegal, and we’ve been told disciplinary action will be taken if we don’t issue the right number.’
The council employs 38 officers, who patrol the city on shifts from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday and then in the day time on weekends.
They issue tickets costing £50 to £75, which can be reduced to £25 to £35 if paid within 14 days.
Last year, they issued 41,432 parking tickets, of which 30,673 were paid.
If every ticket carried a higher rate charge, and was paid in full, the plan would raise £2,463,160.
The officer said: ‘It’s unfair for us to have to issue extra tickets.
‘We do our jobs properly. We can’t just increase the number, and we’re being threatened if we don’t.’
It is illegal, under the Traffic Management Act 2008, for local authorities to set targets for the number of tickets they issue.
The Act’s statutory guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions reads: ‘Raising revenue should not be an objective of civil parking enforcement, nor should authorities set targets for revenue or the number of penalty charge notices they issue.’
The council’s parking operations manager Michael Robinson denied his department had a target.
He said: ‘We don’t impose targets for the number of tickets issued. Such practices are illegal. We look at the average number of tickets our officers issue, as one way of judging staff performance.
‘Issuing fewer tickets than the average is not a trigger for disciplinary action. But consistent under-performance would be an issue for a manager. Under-performance over a long period could end in disciplinary action and dismissal.’
AA CALLS FOR ‘OFFICER DISCRETION’
MOTORISTS’ group The AA has criticised the council’s approach, calling for parking officers to be allowed to use ‘discretion’ in their work.
Group spokesman Luke Bosdet said: ‘There are many reasons why someone may infringe a parking rule, such as older people overrunning because of an accident and officers must be able to balance up all factors.
‘Officers are there to make sure people park considerately, but they need to exercise discretion depending on the situation.
‘Targets or other measures would discourage that approach.’