I can confirm that, unfortunately, due to the large number of appeals now being received at POPLA, there is now a delay in appeals being considered. Your appeal should be considered within the next three or four weeks and as soon as a decision is made, it is forward to both parties.
That means that POPLA are now running 43-50 days behind schedule.
Does this matter? Well, it does to POPLA, because the Service Specification Schedule in their draft contract with the BPA Ltd contains the following clause:
11. Maintain the quality of responsiveness of the management of the appeals process on a basis and timescales specified by the IAS Code of Practice using agreed performance indicators such as:
So while we do not know the exact values in days for the performance indicators, we can be sure that POPLA want to keep to them.
- Average number of days taken to decide on-line cases
- Average number of days taken to decide postal cases
- average number of days taken to first consider cases
- average number of days taken to close cases
- number of complaints about the service (excluding complaints about judicial style decisions)
How can they cut down the time needed? One way of doing this is for them to act smarter, and we have already seen this in action. There is no need for them to wade through a forty page evidence pack from the Operator if the motorist asked to see a contract and the Operator did not provide one. Bang! Appeal upheld! Next!
One problem here is that this may lead eventually to both the motorist and Operator evidence packs growing ever larger and more complex. This will make appeal processing time even longer. We will have to keep an eye on this. (Or perhaps, a Parking Eye on this.)
Another way of cutting down the time is to add staff. More bodies = more cases that can be processed each day. The Prankster's previous post on POPLA costs shows this is already happening. However, this does not seem to be cutting into the backlog. Solution? Even more bodies!
This solves POPLA's problem, but it then becomes the BPA Ltd's problem. From The Prankster's previous post we saw that as POPLA's wage bill increases, they don't really care because they pass all costs directly onto the BPA Ltd with their monthly invoice. The BPA Ltd then funds this from the levy they make on all the Parking Companies.
The problem is, this levy is intended to fund a whole host of things, not just POPLA. The more money POPLA costs, the less money BPA Ltd has for everything else. As they are a limited company, this directly affects their profits. In theory, if the POPLA costs increase sufficiently, the BPA Ltd could even go bankrupt! In practice, this is not likely to happen; they could adjust the key performance indicators, for instance, so POPLA have longer to process cases.
So, how can the BPA Ltd protect their profits, which of course you can be sure their shareholders are very keen to happen.
One way for them to address this is to put pressure on Parking Companies to cancel tickets when they know they have no hope of winning. Parking Companies should be doing this anyway, as part of their code of practice:
22.1 Under the Code you must have procedures for dealingWe know this is not happening because over 60% of motorists are winning their appeals at POPLA (as of Feb 6th).
fairly, efficiently and promptly with complaints, challenges
As an example, The Prankster currently has a ticket from Smart Parking Ltd. He appealed to Smart Parking, stating that the signs were in the name Town and City Parking Ltd. Smart Parking waffled a little, not answering the question, and provided a POPLA code, which The Prankster duly used.
Smart Parking, in The Prankster's humble opinion, do not have much of a chance at POPLA, seeing as The Prankster has asked them to supply a contract in the name of Smart Parking and they have not done so. Other POPLA cases have had their appeal upheld for the same reason. We still have to wait another few weeks of course. Who knows, the Prankster may still end up with egg on his face if Smart Parking rustle up the missing document.
But, if they don't, then Smart Parking should never really have let this get to POPLA. This will, after all, cost the BPA Ltd £137.30. That's not really fair on the BPA Ltd. Perhaps the BPA Ltd will start to get tough on Parking Companies making vexatious claims for money and flouting their code of practice with regard to appeals. They have the right to audit the Parking Companies and check that their appeal processes are fair. Perhaps they could do no better to start with, than to get the list of Parking Companies from POPLA with the highest percentages of appeals upheld. If they find that those companies are not playing fair with the motorist then they can write to them requiring them to make changes by a specified date, and after that, issue sanction points. If a member accrues 12 sanction points they can be suspended or even expelled, effectively shutting them down.
In the past, the BPA Ltd did not have any great incentive to issue sanction points. Perhaps now that the operator's actions will be having a direct effect on the BPA Ltd's bottom line, they will be a bit freer with awarding them.
The Parking Prankster