Urgent reform of management of Dublin city parking services sought

Drivers clamped in areas where road marking were not present or inadequate will get a refund, city manager confirms

A road markings programme will be implemented and drivers previously clamped in areas of Dublin city where road marking were either not present or inadequate will    get a refund of their de-clamping fees. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A road markings programme will be implemented and drivers previously clamped in areas of Dublin city where road marking were either not present or inadequate will get a refund of their de-clamping fees. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A demand for urgent reform of the management and monitoring of Dublin city parking services has been issued by the Green Party after it voiced concerns over clamping practices.

Green Party Cllr Ciarán Cuffe, who chairs Dublin City Council’s Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (TSPC), wants the committee to discuss his concerns at a meeting on Wednesday.

Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan has told Cllr Cuffe he is satisfied the parking enforcement service operates to a “reasonable standard” and the primary responsibility for any problems with parking enforcement lay with the council’s monitoring of it. Mr Keegan apologised over the monitoring failures and set out a list of changes to be effected in that regard.

Cllr Cuffe said he remains concerned there are problems “at street level” going “beyond that” which need to be addressed.

Not enough attention is being paid to parking on footpaths and cycle lanes, he said.

He was concerned about rumours of clampers being given “targets” and that, once they have reached those, they can go home.

In a letter of September 8th to Cllr Cuffe, Mr Keegan had said he is satisfied that, in general, the parking enforcement service operated to a “reasonable standard”.

He also said there was a “valid basis” for various concerns raised in protected disclosures by clamping employees.

He said Dublin Street Parking Services (DSPS), the city’s parking enforcer, had, “with considerable justification” robustly denied any wrongdoing or any contractual failures on its part.

Protected disclosures

Among various concerns in the protected disclosures, there was concern about an inconsistent approach to parking enforcement in certain city centre locations and against a certain category of vehicle such as commercial vehicles. Other concerns were over clamping in areas with no, or inadequate, road markings.

Based on his own investigation into the protected disclosures made by two DSPS employees in 2017, Mr Keegan said he was satisfied “primary responsibility” for any problems with the parking enforcement service must be attributed to the council’s monitoring of the parking enforcement contract over the past three years.

He expressed “sincere regret” over those failures and promised a programme of action to tackle those, including filling the vacant position of Parking Enforcement Officer and setting adequate key performance indicators.

A road markings programme will be implemented and drivers previously clamped in areas where road marking were either not present or inadequate will also get a refund of their de-clamping fees.

Mr Keegan said a new parking enforcement contract to be awarded shortly will emphasise the importance of service quality and achievement of broad traffic and parking management objectives.

Mr Keegan also informed Cllr Cuffe the city council had terminated an investigation by a former assistant Garda Commissioner Michael McCarthy into the protected disclosures and had also withdrawn Mr McCarthy’s June 2017 report. The DSPS lawyers raised issues about whether the investigation involved a breach of their client’s natural justice rights, he said.

After terminating the McCarthy investigation, Mr Keegan carried out his own inquiry.

Cllr Cuffe had written to Mr Keegan seeking information concerning the protected disclosures and the outcome of the investigation into those.

Having received the CEO’s response, Cllr Cuffe said “radical reform” of parking enforcement in the capital is needed. It is “crucial” the management failures are addressed and greater transparency is provided so that public confidence can be placed in our staff and in parking enforcement services.

He urged more tow-trucks and that more attention be paid to illegal parking that blocks footpaths, cycle lanes and disabled parking bays.

“In the past we’ve seen poor practice that seems more like ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ instead of tackling dangerously parked cars.”