DEVLIN SAYS NO!
Cormac was part of a cross-party group of Councillors who proposed a motion (Section 140) instructing the County Manager not to proceed with his plans to amend the Parking Bye-Laws to include clamping in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council area.
Councillor Devlin reminded Management that it was "public representatives who make the decision to decide if clamping can / cannot be used in the County, not Management".
Resolution Pursuant to Section 140 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
We, the members of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, pursuant to Section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001, hereby require and direct the County Manager to adhere in word and action, to the policy adopted by this County Council at the introduction of Pay & Display Parking Scheme for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown in 2002, where the Council decided that clamping would not be a part of this scheme.
The following report of the Manager:
In responding to this motion I wish to make a number of points as follows:
Previous Council Policy in Relation to Parking Enforcement
The ‘Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Draft Parking Control Bye Laws 2000’ were adopted at a meeting of the Council held on Monday 2 July 2001 and at an adjourned meeting of the Council held on Monday 14 January 2002.
The only reference to the enforcement of the Bye-Laws in the minutes of these meetings is contained in motion no C/254/01 (meeting of 2 July 2001). The relevant extract from the minutes is as follows:
‘It was proposed by Councillor V. Boyhan and seconded by Councillor F. O’Malley):
That the Council within 3 months will seek tenders for the enforcement of these byelaws by means of substantial fines and clamping
Following a show of hands the motion was defeated.
It is worth pointing out that a set of responses to ‘frequently asked questions’ produced in association with the draft Bye-Laws made no reference to clamping not being used to enforce the Bye-Laws.
While it is not clear that there was ever a formal policy in relation to clamping in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown I accept that there was an understanding between Council management and the Elected Members that clamping would not be used in the enforcement of the Council’s parking control bye-laws at the time the bye-laws were introduced.
I believe that circumstances have changed since then and that the introduction of limited clamping is now, both necessary and justified to augment the Council’s ticket based enforcement regime.
The Rationale for Introducing Limited Clamping in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown
In proposing the introduction of limited clamping I was conscious of the need to address the following problems:
· . the high level of non compliance with parking restrictions in the county. This was confirmed by the recent ILTP study, · the high level of non payment of parking tickets. On average over 40% of parking tickets are not paid. Of the 40,151 parking tickets issued in 2006, 15,916 were unpaid at 31 December 2006. The minimum direct loss in revenue to the Council in 2006 is estimated at €636,640 (i.e. 15,916 x €40) and · the fact that there are a significant number of motorists who are persistent offenders with a number of unpaid parking tickets and who are clearly not deterred by the current enforcement regime.
It seems to me that once the Council imposes parking controls it has a responsibility to the vast majority of motorists who comply with these controls to ensure that effective enforcement action is taken against the minority of motorists who do not comply and especially against those motorists who are persistent offenders.
Status of Decisions in Relation to Parking Enforcement
The legal authority for clamping is contained in Section 101 b of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 as inserted by Section 9 of the Dublin Transport Authority (Dissolution) Act, 1987. (A copy of the relevant legislation is attached.) Decisions in relation to parking enforcement and the introduction of clamping are an executive function of the Manager.
Development of the Proposal to Introduce Limited Clamping
Notwithstanding the fact that it is an executive function my decision in relation to clamping was made in consultation with the Corporate Policy Group (CPG). At the CPG meeting on 3 October 2006 I indicated that I proposed to examine pay parking charges and parking enforcement especially in relation to vehicles where there were several parking tickets outstanding. I presented a detailed report to the CPG meeting on 4 December 2006 in which I proposed the introduction of limited clamping to augment the Council’s ticket based parking enforcement regime. I agreed to modify my proposals to take account of concerns raised by members of the CPG. A modified report was presented to the County Council meeting on 11 December, 2006. While a number of Councillors expressed their opposition to clamping the report was noted by the Council.
Impact on Council Budget 2007
In my report to the Budget Meeting of the Council on 9 January 2007, I identified the prospect of increased income from parking as one of the factors that had created a favourable background against which the draft Budget for 2007 had been prepared. My report stated as follows:
‘the Council is expecting a real increase in income from paid parking reflecting an expansion of paid parking areas in the county and improved parking enforcement
Partly on the basis of the changes in parking enforcement I was proposing, the provision for income from parking activities in the Council’s revenue Budget was increased from €1.5m in 2006 to €3.5m in 2007.
Reliance on Court Action
When I presented my Report to Council on 11 December 2006 I was not aware of the fact that the firm of solicitors acting on behalf of the Council had failed to use time allocated to by the Courts Service on 11 October 2006 and again on 8 December 2006 to pursue unpaid parking tickets in Dun Laoghaire District Court. I very much regret and apologise for the fact that my Report to Council was misleading in relation to this matter
While there is no excuse for the failure to avail of Court time on the two dates in 2006 it is important to state that even if this time had been fully utilised only 6% of unpaid tickets would have been pursued in Court. It is also worth pointing out that pursuing parking tickets in Court is a very cumbersome and costly process and there is significant potential for offending motorists not to be successfully prosecuted. The steps that have to be completed in prosecuting a parking ticket case are set out below:
1.Obtain ownership details of the vehicle 2.Issue reminder notice 3.Confirm status of payment 4.If unpaid issue a solicitor’s letter asking for payment of ticket and warning that in default of payment, prosecution proceedings will be issued 5.Reserve time in the District Court 6.Check information again to establish status of payment 7.Arrange for Summons to be issued and served by registered post 8.If not served three times, obtain order from District Court for substituted service by way of ordinary post.
The Parking Warden is also obliged to attend the Court hearing together with a representative of the Parking Enforcement Company. Even in the event of a successful prosecution there is no certainty that any fine imposed will be paid or that the Council will be able to recover its costs
The Council has now engaged a new firm of solicitors to handle parking ticket work and we are committed to availing of whatever time is allocated to us by the Courts Service in 2007
I am convinced that exclusive reliance on ticket based parking enforcement regime with full use of the Court time that is made available to us to pursue motorists who do not pay their parking tickets will not provide a sufficient deterrent to address the problems we are experiencing in relation to non compliance with parking restrictions and non payment of parking fines.
Impact on Business in Dun Laoghaire
The opposition to the introduction of limited clamping has come primarily from the Dun Laoghaire Business Association. They argue that any clamping of vehicles, irrespective of how limited, will be bad for business in Dun Laoghaire. I do not accept that there is any basis for their concern in this regard. If there was any basis for the argument that clamping is bad for business then Dublin city centre, which has a very rigorous parking enforcement regime (based entirely on clamping of vehicles) would be in terminal decline from a commercial perspective. All the evidence suggests that compared to Dun Laoghaire Dublin city centre is thriving. The Dublin City Business Association has recently confirmed its continuing support for clamping
Package of Parking Enforcement Measures
It is important to emphasise that the introduction of limited clamping was just one element of a series of measures I was proposing to introduce to improve parking enforcement in the county. The various measures are set out below;
· the operating hours for our parking enforcement service will be extended to provide a limited enforcement service in the evenings (i.e. from 19.00hrs to 22.00hrs) and on Sundays. This does not imply that pay parking will operate on Sundays and in the evening. It means that other parking restriction (e.g. double yellow lines) will be enforced on Sundays and in the evening. · the contractor will be obliged to give additional weight to enforcement of non ‘paid’ parking offences (e.g. single yellow lines, double yellow lines, parking on footpaths, grass margins, cycle lanes etc.) · the contractor will be obliged to comply with operating procedures drawn up by the Council (incl. priority to be attached to enforcing different restriction, grace periods, policy on appeals.) These procedures will be brought before the Transportation SPC · some facility for the removal of vehicles causing serious obstruction and blocking entrances will be provided and · the geographic coverage of the service will be extended to the entire County. · An Independent Appeals Officer will be appointed to determine all appeals, to investigate any complaints in relation to the performance of the parking enforcement contractor and to report on a regular basis to the Transportation S.P.C. on the Council’s parking enforcement service.
I am satisfied that the very limited clamping that I am proposing to introduce targeted at persistent offenders represents a very reasonable, balanced and proportionate response to the problems of non compliance with parking restriction and non payment on parking tickets we are experiencing in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. The proposal was developed in consultation with the CPG and was subject of a detailed report to the Council. It deserves the support of the Council.
If this motion is passed it will send a clear message to motorists that this Council is unenthusiastic about enforcing the parking restrictions it imposes. It will also undermine our budget for 2007.
Owen P Keegan
Extract from Dublin Transportation Authority (Dissolution) Act, 1987
Immobilisation, removal etc. of unlawfully parked vehicles
101B.—(1) In this section—
'authorised person' means a person, or a member of a class of persons, prescribed for the purposes of this section;
'immobilisation device' means any device or appliance designed or adapted for fixing to a vehicle for the purpose of preventing it from being driven or otherwise put in motion;
'vehicle' means a mechanically propelled vehicle. (2)Where an authorised person finds on a public road a vehicle that is parked in contravention of any prohibition or restriction imposed under section 90 of this Act, he or a person acting under his direction may— ( a )fix an immobilisation device to the vehicle while it remains in the place where he finds it, or ( b )move it from the place where he finds it (whether or not he has fixed an immobilisation device to it) to another place and fix an immobilisation device to it in that other place. (3)When fixing an immobilisation device to a vehicle, there shall also be affixed to the vehicle a notice in the prescribed form— ( a )indicating that the device has been fixed to the vehicle and warning that an attempt should not be made to drive it or otherwise put it in motion until the device is removed, ( b )specifying the steps to he taken to secure such removal, and ( c )giving such other information (if any) as may be prescribed. (4)Subject to subsection (5), an immobilisation device that has been fixed to a vehicle under this section may be removed only by an authorised person or a person acting under his direction. (5)( a )An immobilisation device fixed to a vehicle under this section shall be removed only— (i)if the person seeking its removal shows to the satisfaction of any authorised person that he, is the owner of the vehicle or is authorised by its owner to seek such removal and pays the prescribed charge, (ii)for the purpose of the removal of the vehicle under section 97 of this Act, or (iii)for the purpose of moving the vehicle under subsection (2) of this section. ( b )Where the owner of a vehicle that is parked and to which an immobilisation device has been fixed under this section shows to the satisfaction of any authorised person that the vehicle was so parked while being used by a person other than the owner and that such use was not authorised by the owner, the authorised person shall waive the prescribed charge and he or a person acting under his direction shall remove the immobilisation device from the vehicle. ( c )An immobilisation device fixed to a vehicle under this section shall be removed therefrom as soon as is reasonably practicable after the payment of the prescribed charge or after the waiver of such charge, as the case may be. (6)A notice affixed to a vehicle under this section shall not be removed or interfered with by a person other than the owner of the vehicle or a person authorised by such owner to use the vehicle and a person who contravenes this subsection shall be guilty of an offence. (7)A person who— ( a )obstructs or impedes an authorised person, or a person acting under his direction, in the performance of his functions under this section, or ( b )without being authorised to do so under this section, removes or attempts to remove from a vehicle an immobilisation device fixed to it under this section, shall be guilty of an offence. (8)( a )An immobilisation device shall not be fixed under this section to an ambulance, a fire brigade vehicle or any vehicle used by a member of the Garda Siochána in the performance of his duties as such member. ( b )This section shall not apply to a vehicle on which there is prominently displayed a valid permit for a disabled driver under bye-laws or temporary rules under section 90 of this Act. (9)The Minister may, after consultation with the Minister for Justice, make regulations for the purpose of enabling full effect to be given to this section and such regulations may, in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, specify requirements in relation to: ( a )the type of immobilisation device to be used, ( b )the form of a notice under subsection (3) of this section, ( c )the amount of the charge under subsection (5) of this section and the manner in which and the person to whom such charge shall be paid.”
A lengthy discussion took place, during which Mr. O. Keegan, County Manager responded to Members queries.
It was agreed to adjourn the meeting for twenty minutes for Councillors to consider the Resolution pursuant to Section 140 of the Local Government Act, 2001
A further discussion took place, following which the Resolution pursuant to Section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001 was PUT
A roll call vote was called for, the result was as follows:
COUNCILLORS: FORAGAINST Mitchell O’Connor, Mary √
An Cathaoirleach, Councillor E. Regan declared the Resolution defeated.
An Cathaoirleach, Councillor E. Regan read the following motion:
That the Manager defer the introduction of clamping for three months pending a report on the results from utilising the Courts Service over that period, and a report on the impact of clamping on business.
Following discussion An Cathaoirleach, Councillor E. Regan amended his motion as follows:
To defer the introduction of clamping until 1st June to allow time for further consultation with the business community and to fully exploit the availability of Court time.
A roll call vote was called for, the result was as follows:
COUNCILLORS:FORAGAINSTABSTAINED Bhreathnach, Niamh √ Kivlehan, Tom √ Marren, Donal √ Mitchell O’Connor, Mary √
An Cathaoirleach, Councillor E. Regan declared the motion carried.