Hounslow Announces Plans To Harmonise Parking
West London Councils team up as Serco chosen as contractor
Hounslow Council has announced that it has teamed up with Ealing and Brent councils to create a west London parking service which they claim will be the first and biggest of its kind in the country.
The plan to harmonise parking services as the West London Alliance has been in the pipeline for some time and the three boroughs have this week approved Serco as the chosen contractor.
The new service will see the introduction of ‘virtual’ parking permits for controlled parking zones, meaning motorists will no longer have to display paper permits on their windscreens.
Hounslow Council said the five-year contract will mean an improved parking service thanks to economies of scale, new technology and more efficient working practices. However the local branches of Unison and Unite have said they are concerned the changes will lead to job losses in Hounslow, and almost certainly higher parking charges in the borough. They also claim it will mean a drop in the quality of services- a claim that Hounslow Council has rejected. The council says the new scheme would improve services and protect frontline jobs.
Councillor Ed Mayne, Hounslow Council’s cabinet member for community safety and regulatory services, said: “This trailblazing agreement represents a great deal for Hounslow’s taxpayers and motorists.
“It shows the way ahead for other councils who are faced with a perfect storm of cuts and rising costs, so it’s a no-brainer for us to team up with our west London neighbours to deliver a high quality parking service and save money for Hounslow residents to boot.”
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport and environment at Ealing Council, said: "This new contract is an excellent example of how west London boroughs are coming together to ensure we can make the savings that are needed whilst at the same time making real, palpable improvements in service.
“Ealing's Parking team has seen year on year reductions in the issuing of PCNs over the past three years whilst rolling out improved services such as pay-by-phone for visitors and in the future, virtual parking permits for residents. The new contract gives us an opportunity to build on these improvements and offers us options going forward for potential further savings."
Councillor Jim Moher, Brent Council’s lead member for highways and transportation, said: “The contract will make substantial financial savings for Brent at a time when we are getting to grips with perhaps the worst financial settlement in the borough's history. What’s more, it will further modernise our parking services by investing in new technology, and deliver the high-quality service Brent's residents, businesses and drivers expect."
Elaine Bailey, Managing Director of Serco Home Affairs, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this exciting new contract to run parking services for the West London Alliance. Serco has extensive experience in managing complex operations and innovative technologies to deliver efficiencies and economies of scale – and ultimately provide cost savings.”
Union and Unite said in a joint statement recently: "We are extremely concerned about these proposals, and fear that - once parking services are under the day to day control of a private company out to make a profit - this will not be a good deal for the residents of the borough, not a good deal for the Authority, and not a good deal for our members who work in the Parking Service."
Both the unions represent members who work in the parking service.
March 21, 2013