Some readers might remember the PCN article, where it was revealed that Penalty Charge Notices are nothing more than contractual payments. Scarborough Borough Council’s Head of Legal Services, Ian Anderson, was the man who was kind enough to provide this information.
Since then Nick, a very active TPUC researcher in Scarborough, has been working with colleagues in the area to do more research into the Company known as Scarborough Borough Council.
One of the areas that they have been investigating is the Parking Services department of the Council, and recently they learned that a position for a “Civil Enforcement Officer” (Traffic Warden) has become available.
However, after looking at the relevant pages on SBC’s website, it became apparent that there are some curious statements being made, which raise some interesting questions.
These will be outlined below, but just in case you are interested in a little about the position, here are the basic details:
Civil Enforcement Officer
Service Area: Technical Services
Job Title: Civil Enforcement Officer – Whitby
Post Number: TS46
Salary: £15,725 – £16,830
Closing Date: 12 noon, Thursday 31 December 2009
In the event that these pages have been removed by the time you read this article, we have taken screen shots to allow you to view them for yourself.
The first item we noticed (image 1 above), is that SBC is looking for an applicant with “12 months of experience dealing with the public face-to-face”. It seems apparent that most situations in life will give us all the opportunity to deal with the public on a face-to-face basis. Even those of us that work in a call centre or an office will still have to deal with other human beings when getting to or from work, or going shopping, or picking children up from school. This makes this a rather pointless statement, unless of course it has a direct bearing on the item we next spotted…
This is perhaps one of the most curious requirements of the job, in that the applicant must “be able to deal with members of the public who may be angry, aggressive or upset”. From that statement we might infer that a lot of the men and women that the successful applicant will deal with are going to be angry, aggressive or upset and that it will be a regular part of the job. We all know instinctively when we have been wronged, and this can be manifested by being angry, upset, or aggressive (although we should all do our best not to be aggressive, even to Traffic Wardens). Being stuck with a PCN, masquerading as a “fine”, is a ‘wrong’ being committed by a corporate entity, against us – hence being upset.
Moving on to the third item that catches our attention is something most interesting. “Parking Services provides a range of frontline services to Scarborough Borough Council and its stakeholders”. A stakeholder is a term used in the legal and financial world. According to a number of sources a stakeholder (law) is “a person having in his/her possession (holding) money or property in which he/she has no interest, right or title, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between two or more claimants to the money or property. The stakeholder has a duty to deliver to the owner or owners the money or assets once the right to legal possession is established by judgment or agreement”. Other sources list a stakeholder (corporate) as “a person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization’s actions”. When dealing with SBC, we have noticed that they will use a word or phrase that can be taken in two or more contexts, and often makes it difficult for the reader to understand the point of an article or correspondence. Here we are left with the conclusion that SBC has stakeholders that are affected by the “frontline services” (issuance of PCN’s?), stakeholders that have an interest (financial?) in the “frontline services”, or both! The most major of these frontline services is definitely the issuance of PCN’s. So one has to ask the question; ‘are the stakeholders benefiting or being affected by PCN’s?’
On page 2 (image 2 above) we see the details of the job specification. This is quite normal for any job, and we would expect this for any company advertising a position in this manner.
The first item we will look at is given in the “Job Activities”, and reads as: “1. Enforcing Decriminalised Parking by issuing Penalty Charge Notices where vehicles are parked in contravention of the relevant controls.”
Upon reading this, it was immediately apparent that simply issuing a PCN does not enforce anything, it simply notifies the road user, that he or she has done something wrong and that a financial penalty has been imposed. Bare in mind that this PCN has been issued by a Civil Enforcement Officer, who has not weighed up all the facts, mitigating factors, and any other circumstances that might have accounted for the actions of the driver. They act as a ‘judge, jury and executioner’ when issuing a ticket, because there is no cause for defence. You don’t get the option to challenge the PCN until after issuance, and then, you have to “appeal” to the “INDEPENDENT Appeals Tribunal”, which, as we have previously discovered, is paid for through the issuance of PCN’s. Does this sound like justice to you?
Not wishing to go on with this article too long we move to the third page (image3 above). The title is what should immediately grab the attention. “Person Specification”. One website defines person specification as: “The skills that a job candidate must have in order to complete the tasks of a position offered by a company. A person specification can outline the educational requirements, training experience as well as more personal qualifications that a candidate must possess.”
Whilst we can accept that it really is just a page giving the skills that someone should have in order to qualify for the position being offered, doesn’t it seem funny that persons now have “specifications”? After all, human beings are living organisms, and we are all supposed to be created equally, and treated just the same too. However, when it now comes to applying for a job, just like a computer, or a car, or a house, or any PRODUCT, you now have to have a specification. The last time I applied for a job, the application form listed “required skills”, and didn’t mention anything about specifications. Remember that a person is a legal fiction too, and by giving a list of required skills and entitling it “Person Specification”, it further enforces the idea that we are just legal entities, subject to the authority of fictional organisations, and illusory characters.
Over the coming weeks we will be publishing further articles on this council, but if you have any details of interesting goings on at your local council, quango, or governmental organisation, send us an email via the contact page.