A BBC FILM about Hackney council parking practice has prompted the Labour-run authority to go on social media with allegations of “false reports”.
Inside Out London, a BBC investigative team, this week reported that parking wardens in Hackney and two other London boroughs were being given incentives to fine motorists. Hackney has always denied that parking wardens were motivated by incentives, and it did so again.
Feryal Demirci, the councillor who deals with parking, issued a statement to answer a Daily Mail preview of the BBC report. That said that at Apcoa, the company hired by Hackney to run parking, “traffic wardens are ranked into different bands according to their hourly ticket-issue rates.
“The contract states that no more than 10% of wardens can fall below band two.”
Demirci, having criticised the paper for mistakenly saying the council made almost £7.9 million, not £4.9 million, out of parking last year, went on to deny that the council’s contract with Apcoa set a target for parking tickets.
The BBC report said: “Hackney employs Apcoa, where traffic wardens are ranked into different bands according to their hourly ticket-issue rates. The contract states that no more than 10% of wardens can fall below band two.”
After a touching note about concessions for old and disabled people, she got around to responding to the substantive claim. Her statement said: “Because of the potential misinterpretation of the performance indicator referenced, which was used solely for statistical analysis, the council decided last year to remove it from the contract.
“This decision was taken on the grounds of public perception and not legal concerns.”
The BBC put it in plain English: Hackney had said that “to avoid confusion, a decision had been made to remove this section from the contract altogether”.
The likelihood is that an investigation by Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis into the contracts issued to companies to run parking in the three boroughs will exonerate Hackney.
Yet the council was still feeling sensitive. An @hackneycouncil tweet said: “Read the truth about false reports in the Mail that Hackney sets targets for parking wardens and made £7.9m profit http://is.gd/sXWnvU .”
A tweet by @feryaldemirci said: “2/2 Hackney Council’s parking contract sets no targets for the issue of penalty charge notices and” Yep, ends there. Typing errors happen to all of us. As for “2/2”, no idea.
Londoners may recall that a report in 2012 of bush meat being sold from a shop – not a costermonger’s stall – at Ridley Road Market led Demirci to say the council had found no actionable problem over a period of four years. She added: “Now that we have received some information from the BBC we will look into this and take the appropriate action.”
Market users were left wondering why the scandal had been uncovered by a few journalists rather than council inspectors.
Perhaps Demirci has her mind on other matters. She has been trying to find a Labour Party branch that will choose her to contest a seat in the House of Commons. Last year 2013 she failed to win selection for Enfield North, a prime (it’s in London) seat.
David Altheer 290114
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