Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

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Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Legolas on Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:43 am

Last year I wrote to WCC several times asking when the much promised exploration of alternative payment methods will actually take place.

Mike More promised in August 2009 that it would happen in January 2010. It never did. But because Pay by Phone as the sole payment method is socially exlusive, the council knows it can't be seen to close the book on it. As such I now have a collection of emails from the likes of Philippa Roe, Leith Penny and Peter Large all informing me that the council is continuing to consider the issue and variously making claims as to when it will actually get underway properly.

Pressing Philippa Roe last July, she wrote back and, knowing that she could not admit that Mike More's original assurance was a blatant lie (just my opinion if the lawyers are reading), she told me that the promised exploration would happen when the Pay by Phone contract was renewed - a process that was due to start last autumn and was being arranged by Lambeth Council on behalf of several other councils including WCC, presumably as part of PiP (or whatever the current version of PiP is called).

Well that process has finally been completed. At the bottom of this post (if I've done it right - I'm a bit of an IT ignoramous) is a link to a copy of the contract procurement document.

As you can see the word "motorcycle" does not appear anywhere in the document, nor is there any acknowledgement of the Motorcycle Parking Charge or of the exploration for alternatives for bikes that Philippa Roe promised would be there.

What there is is plenty of acknowledgement of the social exclusion problem for car drivers. There is also plenty in the way of specific actions that will mitigate against it.

Some of the highlights, compared to the bike parking charge, are:

  • Where Pay by Phone is available for cars, uptake of the service runs at less than 1 in 3 motorists.
    Yet WCC introduced, overnight, a bike charging scheme that obliged 100% of P2W users to Pay by Phone for an on-street space.

  • A cash alternative will be available for car drivers in retail outlets.
    Yet this has never been provided for P2W users.

  • Where no retail outlet is close by, a payment machine will continue to be provided.
    Again this has never been provided for P2W users.

  • There is an acknowledgement that the alternative payment options must be within a short walking distance of a given parking space.
    Yet WCC hold up the 11 free car parks across the borough as adequate compensation for people who can't pay by phone for bike parking and therefore can't access the 600 on-street motorcycle bays. And this is despite walking distances being much more pertinent for bikers due to their having to carry crash helmet, waterproofs, protective clothing, gloves, winter layers, luggage etc.


I know many people don't fully believe that social exclusion is as big a weapon as I believe it to be, but look at the facts. It's acknowledged to be a huge problem for cars. Why is it not acknowledged to be a huge problem for bikes? (Indeed it's actually a bigger problem for bikes than for cars - car drivers can phone from inside their secure car - bikers must shout details aloud in the street in the pouring rain!)

The answer is twofold:

Firstly it has been acknowledged many times in the past by WCC themselves that the bike charge is socially exclusive. The reason it has never been fixed and is now being denied by WCC is because Pay by Phone is the only system that works for bikes. The only way to fix social exclusion for bikes is to scrap the charge or introduce prohibitively expensive facilities like cash meters for every bike bay.

The second reason WCC won't now acknowledge the problem is because not enough people are pressing WCC to fix the problem. I have been fighting the social exclusion corner with emails, letters etc. ceaselessly for four years now, but I can't do this on my own. I firmly believe that if more people were to take up the social exclusion gauntlet while the Lambeth document is fresh, and get writing, emailing, phoning WCC to try and get answers to the issues above, then there is a chance of making some headway and getting the social exclusion problem addressed.

If motorcycle parking charges were to be killed on the grounds of social exclusion, they can never come back anywhere. That's why WCC are digging in so hard and that's why I believe that social exclusion is such a fearsome weapon. Conversely if they genuinely fix social exclusion, I will settle for it. The truth is, any fix will be prohibitively expensive, so much so that no-other council could justify the costs next to the amount they could successfully charge.

Anyway here is the Lambeth file. And as an interesting aside, look at the bottom of page 17. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it seems to me to be saying that if Pay by Phone results in increased compliance and leaves traffic wardens with nothing to do, they can always withdraw Pay by Phone again in order to get compliance back down and PCNS back up!

It really is all about the money!

http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s55289/Mobile%20Phone%20Parking%20Payment%20System%20ODDR.pdf

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Letter war

Post  thundergar on Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:17 am

To help everyone get their fingers out...

You have become the undisputed expert on this.
could you post up a standard letter outlining the key arguments regarding social exclusion along with the addresses of exactly who we should write to at Westminster.

Everyone on the forum can then cut & paste to start a letter war.

Apologies if you've done this before & I missed it.

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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  TT on Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:01 pm

anything ongoing with this? seems to me it's our only weapon now (apart from riding around TS which so far hasn't been effective or waiting for the magic gullable fairies to negotiate it away).


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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Legolas on Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:06 am

I have a couple of irons in the fire.

The first is a case currently going through the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). My argument is that WCC is "continuing to promote a falsehood" by saying that it will explore alternative payment methods in the future. The truth, in my view, is that this council has no intention of exploring alternatives. But knowing it mustn't be seen to formally close the book on social exclusion, it continues to peddle this most enduring untruth.

I'm also pursuing the fact that the pulse dialling phone number for those without touchtone phones is not advertised anywhere. I had what Leith Penny described as his "final" email on the subject earlier this week. (Final email? How little he knows me!!!) This number has been provided in an attempt to deflect the social exclusion argument. However since the council will only grudgingly provide it for people who phone up and ask for it, it's next to useless.

The council's line is that so few people require it that it's not worth advertising. The truth (in my view) is that having people use the pulse dialling number is expensive (because it's manned) and therefore they'd rather no-one knows about it. Plainly, to say that you needn't advertise a number because it doesn't get used much is a completely circular and self-fulfilling argument - of course no-one uses it because no-one knows it's there!

For the record that number is:
0203 362 7000
If you have an old pulse dialling phone, then use it to pay for your parking via this number! WCC and Verrus (or whatever they're called these days) will hate it!

I'd like also to make a couple of points on social exclusion and the power and validity of it as an argument:

1) The reason that free bike parking is being provided in the car parks is for one reason and one reason only - social exclusion. It was never provided prior to the charge and was hastily introduced when the NTBPT campaign got going. (The council has sometimes tried to argue that this is enough to fix the problem, but as the issue of walking distances is acknowledged for cars in the Lambeth report, it is clearly nonsense to suggest that access to 11 car parks adequately compensates for inaccess to around 600 bike bays!)

2) In 2011, WCC tried to remove the option to pay in advance for bike parking. That decision was overturned because of one person tackling them on it. The only way that one person could have that kind of effect is because of the validity of the social exclusion problem. In 2012, Verrus tried again to quietly remove the option to pay in advance for parking and again it was overturned by one person for the same reason. (The official line was that a mistake had occurred) .

3) The pulse dialling number was grudgingly provided (though I've yet to test it) because of my pressing Philippa Roe on the subject of social exclusion.

These small concessions are all being won because of social exclusion. If there was genuinely no problem, the council would not in a million years have given way on these small points.

I know I bang on about it, but it's only because all the evidence suggests I'm right! Very Happy
Though making it stick is proving somewhat difficult!



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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  TT on Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:34 am

good work...........have you written to/copied in the transport minster/Pickles/your local MP on this?

it's clear that they're on very dodgy ground wrt the MCC and admitting it's social exclusion for cars............although on its own, does the fact that it's socially exclusive mean they'd have to get rid of it?

it's bollox that something is clearly wrong yet they can just ignore it and hope you go away whilst people in power just ignore it or refuse to lift a finger.......and then they wonder why we don't trust them/vote etc.............no justice for the little people!

it's a shame we're not in a position to challenge it in court or least have a viable threat...that's probably the only way we'll force them to do something, ie scrap the charge or provide other means (which as you state would be prohibitively expensive)........

I notice in passing that in Camden the pay by phone is a 020 number that people can call for free on their inclusive mobile minutes...........do WCC do this yet?

I parked in the Q park in Chinatown last night, it's dead posh now, had a clean lick of paint and everything plus it is still free for bikes (as are the others I believe)


keep up the good work Legolas Very Happy

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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Legolas on Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:01 am

Hi TT,
I have met with my MP and cc'd her in on some of the correspondence, but being Conservative herself I think she's a little reluctant to wade in properly. I confess I haven't tried Pickles and the Transport Minister yet, though I dare say I'd get the same platitudes.

I too have used the Chinatown car park, apart from being rammed in the bike section, it is really good.

But that does raise another serious question: If we were to finally win and get the parking charge scrapped, there's a good chance the free car park spaces would be withdrawn. I think we have to ask ourselves, is that what we, as the motorcycling community, actually wants; or is the existence of the charge, which in turn is keeping the car park spaces free, a better status quo?

Don't get me wrong, pressure has to be maintained on social exclusion or the free car park spaces will quietly disappear regardless of whether on-street spaces are free or paid for, but I do think it's a question we ought to seriously consider.

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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  TT on Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:21 am

Might be worth a shout trying or copying in the others if only to try and make WCC take it more seriously.

Re the car parks. In an ideal world it would all be free but given our experience I wouldn't put WCC past an act of petulance if the social exclusion forced them to scrap the MCC.......but I seem to recall it was in the 10 year contract for Q parks was is it not?

I think the point of principle about bike charging is the more important one really and not setting the precident countrywide.

Even though we lost the court case, I still think the way WCC have interpretted the 1984 traffic act in order to justify the MCC goes against the spirit of the act and what was intended by it. We've seemingly lost the legal angle of attack now (not least due to the cost of raising another action etc) so if we can trip them up another way then I think we should.


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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  ldn1702 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:43 am

Hi all,
Long time, no speak!
I think the social exclusion issue is the way forward to get rid of this charge, tax, whatever you want to call it.
The reason why other councils have not followed the WCC lead is because there are no car parks in their borough that provide free motorcycle parking, therefore, if they start to charge on-street, they definitely have a social exclusion issue that cannot be discussed. So, at least, we are pretty safe with regards to maintaining free on-street parking in other boroughs, unless of course, those councils decide to install a payment machine that takes cards and cash at every single motorcycle bay, which would cost them a small fortune.
I think there is an argument with social exclusion in Westminster because providing motorcycle bays on-street everywhere is certainly not the same as providing off-street free parking in specific locations. Those who don't have a bank card and, therefore, have no choice but park off-street, may have to walk a fairly long distance to reach their final point, needless to say that if they have walking difficulties because of disability, they even have a bigger issue. WCC think that they can get away from social exclusion by claiming that there are off-street free spaces, but I don't think this is strong enough as those spaces are not widely available throughout the borough, as is on-street parking. But at least, we are pretty well protected with social exclusion from other councils willing to charge for motorcycle parking, because there are no car parks in their borough like in Westminster. Phew!!

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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Quiet-Flight on Wed May 01, 2013 5:57 pm

Well done Legolas. You are spot on with your arguments, I have also held the view that had we gone with the social exclusion issue when we went to court we may well have had a different result.

Any chance we can post a standard letter template that all the members can use?

Keep at it mate - they hate it that we are actually quite smart and dont fit the standard image of what a biker should be.

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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Legolas on Thu May 02, 2013 9:26 am

Thanks to all for the kind words and encouragement. I will try and get some bullet points drafted in the next few days, though I think it's important where possible that people re-work them a bit into their own words.

In the meantime does anyone know if it's possible to post pdf files on this site so I can post up some of the correspondence. I've looked but I can't figure out how to do it.


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Re: Official - Pay by Phone IS Socially Exclusive - but only for cars!

Post  Ballistic on Wed May 08, 2013 3:00 am

Legolas wrote:
In the meantime does anyone know if it's possible to post pdf files on this site so I can post up some of the correspondence. I've looked but I can't figure out how to do it.


Not sure if you can post PDF file but you can certainly post a link to a PDF file. If you email it to me, I'll stick the file on my FTP site and post link here.

Hope that's OK?

Ballistic

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