Outsourced Notice processing proves great success for Parking Services in Rutland
With minimum scope to consider capital expenditure and a very small support team, the Parking Services operation at Rutland County Council opted to outsource the processing of all Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)when it took over responsibility for civil parking enforcement in June (2008). The move has proved to be a huge success and according to Joanna Stanyon, the authority’s Parking Services Manager, “has provided service standards and recovery rates that have exceeded all expectations.”
Following a competitive tender involving both enforcement companies and IT-led support providers, Rutland County Council appointed the Business Processing Unit of Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions (ICES) to undertake all notice processing and collection of payments on its behalf. The new arrangement has since provided the authority with an effective back-office team and full support in adoption of the new regulations embodied within The Traffic Management Act (TMA) 2004.
Significantly, the outsourced service was established in just 10 days, following a detailed development programme undertaken in partnership between the Council’s ICT team and senior executives from ICES. Full training was also provided for all members of the Parking Services team, including use of handheld technology introduced for all Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs). This level of preparation has helped to ensure a seamless adoption of new enforcement responsibilities and highly efficient processing of all on- and off-street PCNs up to payment recovery and challenges.
In addition, ICES has helped the Council to ensure all PCNs, Notice to Owners, Charge Certificates and all related correspondence are fully compliant and also provides all support evidence for any case that proceeds to adjudication.
“It really has been a great success,” says Joanna. “The only capital expenditure we needed was for the new handheld terminals and, in every respect, the new arrangement is an extension of our in-house team as everything is undertaken as if it’s an internal resource. Payments can be made via a link from our own website or by telephoning a dedicated area within ICES’ Call Centre and all communications are presented in formal Council format. It’s also very easy for each CEO to transfer daily PCN data to the dedicated ICES’ database.
“Our decision to outsource has, unquestionably, helped us to set a standard in enforcement processing that one would associate with a much larger authority, simplified greatly the onerous administrative demands and provided us with excellent recovery rates.”
Rutland County Council’s new parking enforcement activities cover the two market towns of Oakham and Uppingham and has contributed to improved traffic flow as well as providing much more accessible town centre parking for short-stay visits by members of the public from outlying areas of the towns and their neighbouring villages.
All payment recovery of PCNs and correspondence related to Challenges is managed by ICES’ Call Centre, with motorists able to view photographic evidence on-line which has helped to minimise the number of appeals. Initial reports indicate that the new processing arrangement is set to deliver a recovery rate around 80% with ICES transferring PCN income directly into the Council’s dedicated bank account.
“Maintaining service standards and effective enforcement procedures is not easy for many authorities faced with a squeeze on recruitment and pressure on their cap-ex budgets,” says ICES’ Ashley Bijster.
“But there is no short cut when it comes to managing the complexities and procedures of parking enforcement, and even other areas of civil enforcement. Using a proven managed service is really the only practical option in such circumstances, as is so clearly demonstrated by the dramatic growth of our Business Processing Unit over the past two years.”
Photo – Joanna Stanyon, Parking Services Manager at Rutland County Council.