Agenda item

CIVIL PARKING ENFORCEMENT (Agency Agreements) 2016/17

Purpose of the report:  Scrutiny of Services


To review the summary of audit findings and Management Action Plan produced as a result of an internal audit review of Civil Enforcement (Agency Agreements).





Richard Bolton, Local Highway Services Group Manager

David Curl, Parking Strategy & Implementation Team Manager

Tim Semken, Lead Auditor

Simon White, Audit Performance Manager


Declarations of interest:




Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Local Highway Services Group Manager introduced the report and informed the Board that Surrey County Council (SCC) have been responsible for parking enforcement since 2004 however the contracts in place were due to expire in 2018. SCC was originally operating at a loss of £1M but from 2011/12 were operating at no loss. There have been concerns around parking enforcement but arrangements with agents have worked well. 


  1. Due to concerns highlighted by Members regarding issues with enforcement, audit have provided the report which has been presented to the Board today.


  1. Officers indicated that they had met with Reigate and Banstead officers which led to positive discussions and outcomes, Officers advised that further details from this meeting could be provided at a future date.


  1. The Chairman advised the Board that reports received from audit should be reviewed with the approach that Members are satisfied the report has not overlooked or missed anything key. The Chairman further advised that Members should be confident the Management Action Plan (MAP) has addressed these concerns.


  1. In terms of the Management Action Plan, it was noted that the Audit and Governance Committee had raised concerns and gave the opinion the Plan should be stronger.


  1. A Member queried whether the report only assessed and concentrated on Reigate and Banstead or if concerns had been presented in relation to all other Borough and Districts. The Officer advised that as well as Reigate and Banstead, other authorities such as Elmbridge and Guildford were audited. The Local Highway Services Group Manager was confident that information presented from the agents was accurate.


  1. Reference was made to one of the key findings of the audit report which stated that annual returns of all Boroughs and Districts were subject to audit verification before it was submitted to SCC. Officers were asked how this fits alongside the current contractual agreement which covers the period 2013-2018 and whether authorities could demand this as this had not been enforced or met with. Members were assured Officers had the ability to make sure this was complied with and going forward would devise a mechanism to ensure it would be carried out.


  1. Following the discussion above the Member raised the concern that contractual requirements should be monitored, the Officer indicated that it was an agency agreement and not a formal contractual agreement.


  1. There was a discussion around fixed apportionments and whether there was any conclusion to reviewing this. The Officer explained this was a complex area and to ensure SCC break even on the deficits produced this will be raised with the Surrey Treasurers’ Group in identifying a consistent approach for future arrangements across the County.


  1. A Member suggested that it would be beneficial to have information illustrating good practice and behavioural patterns across the County to allow Members to see where good performance is taking place. The Officer advised that this information was available in the Annual report and would be happy to share a link with Members.


  1. A Member shared the view that the language used in the report implied that there was misappropriation and queried if this should be investigated further. The Audit Performance Manager assured the Board that although the report included strong worded terminology there were no suspicions that any misappropriation had taken place.


  1. It was brought to the Boards attention that there was no ability to challenge overheads at Local Committee level and an audit method should be in place to ensure transparency of allocations. The Audit Performance Managerexplained that as each of the district and boroughs were sovereign authorities there was a trust that audits were carried out objectively. It was explained that officers had asked for certification for annual financial returns and received regular audit records.


  1. A Member highlighted that external auditors had given Reigate and Banstead an ‘outstanding’ audit rating. It was stated that Reigate and Banstead used to make a surplus but when there had been a change of reporting they were in fact making a deficit. The Chairman noted this point and advised this area was complex, however gave high regard to the team present at today’s meeting in ensuring improvements would be made.


  1. The Local Highway Services Group Manager indicated that the MAP would run until April 2017 and would be happy to update the Board at a future meeting. The Chairman suggested the Board review this item further in 6 months’ time.




The Board reviewed and commented on the audit report and Management Action Plan.




EP9- For the Local Highway Services Group Manager to send the board a link detailing performance per borough in relation to agency agreements. 

EP10- For a Civil Parking Enforcement Audit Update Item to be added to the forward work programme for summer 2017.


Supporting documents: