It would seem that some councils have found a rather interesting method of clawing back some of their lost funding. In an effort to compensate for their ever-tightening budgets; the councils have had to turn to highway robbery. The three worst perpetrators of this kind of banditry are Bromley, Hackney and Lambeth. So if you are thinking of a new career, then why not become a bandit (traffic warden), the incentives are very good.
You may ask what exactly I am talking about when I say that a council is involved in highway robbery and you would be quite right to. The councils have decided that they will use traffic wardens as their new highway men and parking tickets instead of guns to coerce you into handing over your hard earned money. No, I assure you that I am not mad; documents have shown that at least Bromley, Hackney and Lambeth have set up bonus schemes to reward traffic wardens if they hand out more tickets. The biggest fear is that this kind of scheme could spread all over the country. This would be a PR disaster for the government. How could the government possibly explain that this new form of banditry is not directly related to their slashing of council budgets?
The Prices They Charge
If you are thinking a new career then why not become a traffic warden; the pay is very good, especially in Bromley, Hackney or Lambeth. If you work for Bromley council then they will give you £20 for every ticket that you issue over the annual baseline of 72,000. £20 per ticket is a pretty high incentive for anyone to give tickets to anyone guilty or innocent. Hackney Council has a two band system, which is based on their hourly ticket issue rate and no more than 10% could fall below band two.
Lambeth council requires 218,000 tickets be handed out per year, which was later revised to 205,000. The Local Governments minister said ‘These look like entirely the wrong kind of contract motivating and encouraging the staff to go out and penalise people and they only get paid well if they penalise somebody. That’s the wrong way to run the structure.’ However, given the hole in council budgets due to government spending cuts; it is easy to see how the £5.7, £7.9, and £12 million profit Bromley, Hackney and Lambeth made last year respectively has provoked this behaviour.
I call them bandits not out of spite but because what they are doing is actually illegal. Guidance prohibits councils and private companies from issuing any of these forms of incentives. Essentially, it should never be based on the number of tickets handed out and they should never set targets. Commercial litigation Lawyer Keith Oliver, says that the legally drawn up contracts setting targets are ‘a serial breach of government guidance by a whole series of councils ostensibly acting independently but quite clearly cleverly drafted by lawyers to circumvent the government guidance on the subject’.
Indeed, the councils are so brazen that they deny that their contracts contain targets and incentives, with Bromley Council saying ‘never set targets for revenue from parking enforcement income’. If you had a wrongfully issued ticket, it may have just been issued so that bandits could reach their targets. A whistle-blower at a London Local Authority, disclosed that managers wrote ‘only cancel if appealed’ on many wrongfully issued tickets rather than cancel them.
So, whether it is legal or not, does this really matter, as long as both the council and you yourself are making some extra cash. I mean when you break it down you could make £100 a day if you handed out five extra tickets a day in Bromley. Not that many people contest tickets either. It may be a job which most people despise you for and would indeed stone you for, if they had the choice, but for the moment at least, it seems to be a bit of a money spinner. So why not get in on the action, while you can and make some extra cash. You probably won’t have that much competition, for such a despised job.