Annual Report Toolkit

Annual Report Toolkit

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‘What you do is absolutely central in ensuring that the environment that your residents live and work in is one that’s well managed and enjoyable.’

Huw Merriman
MP for Bexhill and Battle

Member, Transport Committee

Why report?

‘It is important that the public understand why an authority has introduced civil parking enforcement … supporting wider transport objectives, in particular keeping traffic moving, rather than raising revenue.’

The Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the
Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions

Parking and traffic enforcement is an issue that provokes strong views from the public, and this in turn is reflected in media coverage of civil enforcement matters.

An Annual Report – well structured, accessible and utilising the best available communication mediums – provides an opportunity to set out clearly and transparently the ‘what, why and how’ of your civil enforcement activities. By doing so, you will be providing the vital context around the traffic management objectives that lie beneath, which are ultimately in place to meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors.

Demonstrate
transparency
in objectives,
approach,

decision making
and actions

Ensure a
coordinated,
consistent
communication
stream

with stakeholders

Build community
understanding
of the ‘what,
why and how’
of civil
enforcement

Monitor trends
to help shape
and drive
future strategy,
projects and
innovation

Save time
and resources
otherwise spent on
responding to
enquiries, FOIs, etc.

Producing an Annual Report:
Six Steps to Success

Step 1

Setting the scene

Explain why parking and traffic management is needed, and any local factors
that impact on how you balance
the requirements of different stakeholders:
residents; businesses; commuters; visitors; schools and Blue Badge holders.

An introduction from your Portfolio Holder provides the ideal start and sets the scene for your report, with a clear narrative that parking provision and control are essential elements of local transport strategy.

Explain why parking and traffic management is needed, and whether there are any local factors that impact on how your authority balances the requirements of different stakeholders (i.e. residents; businesses; commuters; visitors; schools and Blue Badge holders).

It will also make clear that civil enforcement is not intended to be punitive, and that the local authority is genuinely committed to trying to educate motorists to achieve a safe and efficient network without the need for continual enforcement.

The narrative in this section could include:

  • How parking management contributes to the success of your local area.
  • Your objectives and success in achieving these.
  • Commitment to a fair and proportionate approach to enforcement.
  • A summary of successes and challenges.
  • Information on partnership working.

Step 2

Parking as a service

With press and public attention on enforcement issues, use your report to
demonstrate parking as a service to residents, visitors and businesses.

Everyone has a parking story, and this usually relates to enforcement. The Annual Report is your opportunity to explain that enforcement is only one aspect of your work, and to highlight the parking services that you provide.

Content might include:

  • A summary of on-street and off-street parking provision; the detail of which can be provided by web links. Web links are also a critical element to help users connect with your online services.
  • Permit schemes.
  • Season tickets.
  • Promoting safety at the school gates.
  • Park and ride.
  • Cycle and motorbike parking.
  • Supporting events.
  • Blue badges.
  • Reporting of nuisance parking / abandoned vehicles.
  • Online services.
  • Customer engagement and feedback.

Step 3

Innovation and new developments

Explain what has changed / planned changes, either as a result of feedback
from
local stakeholders or developments in technology.

Outline the potential benefits from these changes.

Moving with the times, this is an opportunity to explain your approach to improving the user experience. Set out what has changed – or planned changes – either as a result of feedback from local stakeholders, or developments in technology. Outline the potential benefits from these changes and your commitment to stakeholder consultation and engagement.

Areas to cover might include:

  • Problem solving: how issues have been recognised and a solution worked through.
  • Improving the user experience in parking: technological innovation, additional / updated parking provision.
  • Feedback from consultations and steps that have been taken in response – ‘you asked; we delivered’.
  • Adoption of more flexible approaches to parking tariffs.
  • New payment methods.
  • New ways of keeping in touch with customers (e.g. social media).
  • Targeted initiatives (e.g. with schools, businesses and other partners).

Step 4

Education, enforcement and appeals

Explain why enforcement is needed; what steps are taken to inform the public
to promote compliance;
your authority’s commitment to fair and proportionate enforcement,

and experience from appeals to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

It is a good idea to dedicate some space in your Annual Report to explaining the aims and objectives of civil parking and traffic enforcement in your community, providing information on any initiatives to educate and inform stakeholders, experience from representations and appeals, as well as – crucially – as much statistical information as necessary to clearly illustrate fair and proportionate enforcement.

Such a section could include details of:

  • Links to common restrictions and signage.
  • Publicity campaigns.
  • Warning notices and your approach to first-time contraventions.
  • How you work with partner agencies, such as schools.
  • Who is involved in the process? In-house teams, contractors, partners, etc.
  • Particular parking schemes, such as controlled zones.
  • Links to parking policies and guidance.
  • A ‘day in the life’ of a civil enforcement officer.
  • New technology you use for enforcement.
  • Links to enforcement activity, geographically.
  • An overview of challenges, representations and appeal statistics.
  • A glossary of terms.

Publishing policies on the exercise of discretion

The Statutory Guidance (Section 10, Paragraph 4) stipulates that authorities should formulate (with advice from their legal department) and then publish their policies on the exercise of discretion.

Links to these policies, together with any context on how they are applied in practice (including reference to flexibility) could be included within your Annual Report. It is always important to emphasise that each case is decided on its own merits.

Dispelling myths with facts

 Your Annual Report is also a perfect opportunity to dispel common myths that your department hears around enforcement, and to instead focus on the relevant facts.

Why not hold a workshop internally to identify common myths associated with your authority’s parking and traffic enforcement operations. You can then create content for your Annual Report to dispel these myths, focused on the facts.

Some of the common myths PATROL hears reported through its member authorities include:

  • ‘CEOs have targets they have to meet they’re on commission’
  • ‘Ignore the PCN, it will go away’
  • ‘Yellow lines are OK on a Sunday’
  • ‘I wasn’t the driver, so it’s not my problem’
  • ‘I can use the Blue Badge, because I’m getting their shopping’

Step 5

Transparency in finance

You have a ready opportunity within your Annual Report to clearly set out the
income, expenditure and – crucially – use of any surplus of your department.
A transparent approach is one of the key ways to dispel negative, incorrect assumptions.

There is a strong public and press perception that civil parking enforcement acts as a ‘cash cow’ for local authorities. Therefore, the clear presentation of financial information can help to convey transparency in this respect. Consider the inclusion of:

  • Headline figures on income expenditure, with links to further detail.
    • You should also consider using diagrams, graphs and infographics to communicate complex financial information in a more accessible, digestible way.
  • Separate off-street and on-street parking income and expenditure.
  • Trends over recent years.
  • How any surplus (if applicable) may be spent.
  • Specifics on projects that are supported by a surplus and / or provide links to committee reports that demonstrate decision-making in respect of surplus.

Step 6

Embracing digital

We live in a time of ever-increasing, unstoppable evolution to digital,
online and accessible communications,
and being able to engage in such a way
is now often an expectation, rather than a ‘nice to have’.

PATROL encourages local authorities to harness digital channels and other innovative forms of communication to better reach and engage with their communities around civil enforcement through an Annual Report. This could mean utilising a digital medium (e.g. video or animation) to present certain sections, hosting content on a website and using web links from your report, or producing an entirely online Annual Report.

A few things to consider:

  • Do you need to fill up space in your report with information that is hosted elsewhere? Ensure timeless and ‘everyday’ content is hosted on your parking services website and use web links to link to it from your report. This keeps the report focused on the content specific to the year in question and avoids padding. This timeless content hosted elsewhere could include:
    • Lists of car parks.
    • Information on paying or challenging a PCN.
    • Applying for a Blue Badge
    • Frequently Asked Questions.
    • Staff and personnel information.
  • Content should be optimised to display for smartphones / tablets: 57% of all internet traffic, globally, is via mobile and smartphone
  • Video is king: Internet video traffic is set to account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by the end of 2019.
    • Animation can be a cost-effective way of creating video and can be more easily edited for re-purposing.
    • Research stock footage providers that may be able to supply generic video / animation that can be applied to your specific messages.
  • Too much scrolling = boredom:
    • Link via web links to content hosted elsewhere (for example, your parking services website).
    • Keep sentences short.
    • Break up content with bullets / lists.
    • Use headings for emphasis.
  • Can what is said in words be communicated more easily in visuals? Infographics are a great way to present stats / figures / achievements, etc.
    • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
    • Visuals can improve learning and retention by 400%.

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Producing an Annual Report:
Best practice examples

To help you visualise how the Six Steps to Success can be incorporated into the production of a clear and effective Annual Report, PATROL has included some examples below of reports (as well as particular elements within reports) that made the shortlist for this year’s PARC (Parking Annual Reports by Councils) Awards.

‘Take the opportunity to talk about your service: how does it meet local needs, overcome challenges and achieve goals…don’t underestimate the importance of transparency in financial reporting and how your authority spends any surplus.’

PATROL PARC Review Group

Producing an Annual Report makes you eligible to enter the PATROL PARC (Parking Annual Reports by Councils) Awards.

The PARC Awards are your opportunity to be recognised for expressing how you are delivering an outstanding service in your area, which will set an example to other authorities across England and Wales, outside London.

The Awards are presented at an annual reception at the House of Commons, where shortlisted authorities are invited to attend.

Find out more about the PARC Awards and how to submit an entry here.

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‘Reporting is an important element of accountability. The transparency given by regular and consistent reporting should help the public understand and accept civil parking enforcement.’

The Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions