Birmingham Car Clamping/Removal Policy & Enforcement

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam, 



I am writing to request information about the policy regarding car clamping in Birmingham, and the associated number of clamping/removals that occur.
Specifically I would like: 



1. A copy of the council's policy on car clamping and any amendments made (with dates of amendment) in the past 14 months up to the time this request is answered.

2. If vehicle clamping is contracted out to another organization(s) then a list of those organisation(s).

3. A copy of any contracts, indices and appendices between the council and these organisations together with the monetary amounts of these contracts.

4. What monitoring, if any, is done to ensure clampers operate within council guidelines?

5. If any sanctions, penalties or enforcement action has been taken against a clamping firm a list of these with dates and detail of infraction.

6. All information that is held regarding the number of vehicles that have been clamped/removed. Ideally I would like to know the date, time, location, reason for clamping/removal, officer ID, any information regarding disputes, and associated payments. Though if all fields can be provided (except for those that hold information that may be exempted), then that would be preferred.

Ideally I would like the location unit to be 'street' but if this is not practical then under your section 16 duty to advise and assist I would expect you to contact me to discuss how you record this geospatial data so that I may narrow my request in a way that works for both of us. 



As a supplementary, under section 16, I would also ask that you provide some detail about the recording processes of this clamping/removal information. E.g. what software is used? What data fields are used? What other data sets it links to (for instance when parking tickets are issued to the same car, and it needs to be removed - does this dataset integrate with the 3Sixty penalty charge notice system?), etc.

If an outside contractor holds this information then it is your responsibility under the FOIA to obtain that information. If another public body holds it then please can you inform me of this and if possible transfer the request to that public body. My preferred format to receive this information is by electronic means (with regards to point 6, I would like the data provided as a raw text file, tab delimited, with text qualifiers if required).

If one part of this request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need any clarification of this request please feel free to email me. If FOI requests of a similar nature have already been asked could you please include your responses to those requests. 



Many public authorities release their contracts with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public’s interest. The public have an interest in knowing thee terms of contracts awarded by public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately. If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

• When these confidentiality agreements were agreed

• All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed.

•
The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements



I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure

I would also point to the Information Commissioner’s guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: ‘Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.’



Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the contracts should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders. 



I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period. 



Many Thanks,

Neil

Birmingham City Council

28 July 2009

Our Ref: FOI3188

I am in receipt of your enquiry received on 27th July 2009, for
information held by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Birmingham City Council does not operate car clamping operations. Before
I respond to your request in full, can you please clarify in Q.6, if you
would like the number of vehicles Birmingham City Council removes not
associated with clamping.

If you require any further information or are not happy with our response
please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0121 303 3912
quoting the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer
Birmingham City Council
Development Directorate
Performance and Corporate Services
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham
B1 1TR

Tel: 0121 303 3912
Fax: 0121 303 2315
Email: [email address]

Data Protection Act 1998
The information you have provided within your Freedom of Information
request will be held on our database and may also be held within manual
records for a period of 2 years from the date Birmingham City Council
received your request. Any personal data that you provide to Birmingham
City Council will be held in line with the requirements set out within the
Data Protection Act 1998.
Re Use of Public Sector Information
Where Birmingham City Council is the copyright holder of any information
that may be released, re-use for personal, educational or non-commercial
purposes is permitted without further reference to the City Council. Where
the re-use is for other purposes, such as commercial re-use, the applicant
should notify the City Council in writing to seek approval or agree terms
for re-use.

show quoted sections

Dean,

Thanks for your response.

Regarding the first part, can you confirm whether Birmingham City Council subcontract out the clamping (which was covered in the original question list)? Or is it that there is a blanket no clamping on throughways etc, and the council just enforce penalty charge notices and vehicle removal?

Regarding Q6, I would like the full detail regarding vehicle removal - including the reason for removal. Including any cases where Birmingham City Council have subcontracted out the removal of a vehicle to a 3rd party.

Therefore, if clamping is not carried out, please treat Q1-5 to be transferable, and covering vehicle removal.

Yours faithfully,

Neil

Birmingham City Council

Neil,

I can confirm Birmingham City Council do not subcontract out clamping and
do not carry out clamping operations throughout the highways. We do
subcontract out the work to enforce penalty charge notices and we do
vehicle removals.

Thank you for clarifying section 6, we will process the rest of your
request and respond to you in full.

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information Officer
Performance and Corporate Services
Development Management Service
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham B1 1TR
Tel. 0121 303 3912
Fax. 0121 303 2315
Email. [email address]

Neil To [email address]
<[FOI #15194 email]> cc
Subject Re: Freedom of Information
29/07/2009 16:25 request - Birmingham Car
Clamping/Removal Policy &
Enforcement

Dean,
Thanks for your response.
Regarding the first part, can you confirm whether Birmingham City
Council subcontract out the clamping (which was covered in the
original question list)? Or is it that there is a blanket no
clamping on throughways etc, and the council just enforce penalty
charge notices and vehicle removal?

Regarding Q6, I would like the full detail regarding vehicle
removal - including the reason for removal. Including any cases
where Birmingham City Council have subcontracted out the removal of
a vehicle to a 3rd party.

Therefore, if clamping is not carried out, please treat Q1-5 to be
transferable, and covering vehicle removal.

Yours faithfully,
Neil

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Birmingham City Council

2 Attachments

24 August 2009
Our Ref: FOI3188

[FOI #15194 email]

Further to your request for under the Freedom of Information Act 2000;
requesting information about the policy regarding car clamping in
Birmingham, and the associated number of clamping/removals that occur.

I have already confirmed that Birmingham City Council do not operate nor
sub-contract out car clamping operations. You have since transferred the
subject of your request to focus on vehicle removals. Therefore, please
find enclosed herewith our response to your questions focusing on the
removal of vehicles.

1. A copy of the council's policy on car clamping and any amendments
made (with dates of amendment) in the past 14 months up to the time this
request is answered.

All vehicle removals are carried out following the guidance set
out in Section 8.88 of ***Operational Guidance to Local Authorities***
Parking Policy and Enforcement Traffic Management Act
2004.

2. If vehicle clamping is contracted out to another organization(s) then
a list of those organisation(s).

Vehicle Removal Contractor: *** The Mansfield Rescue and Recovery
Group
Unit 19a Queensway Industrial Park
Longbridge Hayes Road
Stoke on Trent
Staffordshire
ST6 4DS
3. A copy of any contracts, indices and appendices between the Council
and these organisations together with the monetary amounts of these
contracts.

I can confirm we have located the contract pertaining to the vehicle
removal contract. However, the contract may be subject to confidentiality
clauses and may contain commercially sensitive information, and
accordingly, I have referred the matter to the Council***s solicitors to
handle. It may therefore may be necessary to undertake a public interest
test to determine whether or not such information can be withheld under
s41 and/or s43, or should be released. This is where the Authority needs
to balance the public interest in disclosing the information against the
public interest in withholding the information from publication. Should a
public interest test be required, the Freedom of Information Act allows
Birmingham City Council, as a public authority, a reasonable amount of
time to undertake a public interest test in relating to information
potentially subject to an exemption under the Act.

I will write to you again within 10 working days to inform you of our
decision.

4. What monitoring, if any, is done to ensure champers operate within
council guidelines?

Enforcement is carried out by NSL Services Ltd. It is NSL who request a
vehicle that is committing a contravention to be removed after issuing a
penalty charge notice to the vehicle.
All NSL staff receives additional training to authorise removal of vehicle
and every removal is reviewed and authorised by a supervisor.
The City Council also employ 10 staff who are responsible for monitoring
both the enforcement and removal contract to ensure compliance by both
contractors

5. If any sanctions, penalties or enforcement action has been taken
against a clamping firm a list of these with dates and detail of
infraction.

The Mansfield Group are the sole providers. No sanctions have been
taken against them
6. All information that is held regarding the number of vehicles that
have been clamped/removed. Ideally I would like to know the date,
time, location, reason for clamping/removal, officer ID, any information
regarding disputes, and associated payments.
Though if all fields can be provided (except for those that hold
information that may be exempted), then that would be preferred.

Please find attached spreadsheet which shows the date, time, location and
contravention reason why the PCN was issued,

With regards to your request for 'information regarding disputes'. I have
identified a possible 333 cases which would need to be individually
checked to ascertain the reason why a representation has been made against
the removal. Birmingham City Council has estimated that will cost more
than the appropriate limit to consider your request. Our initial findings
has been it would take 27 hours officer time to retrieve and collate this
information. We would therefore make a charge to provide this
information. The charge is calculated in accordance with section 13 of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Fees
Regulations. The appropriate limit specified in the regulations is
**450.00. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18
hours in determining whether the department holds the information, and
locating, retrieving and extracting the information. The FOIA 2000 allows
the first **450 of the costs in obtaining the information of any request
to be free to the requestor, but any costs above that has to be paid by
the requestor. The above amount excludes time already spent on your
request, and any disbursement charges which would also apply, i.e.
photocopies at 0.15p per sheet.
However, if you narrow the scope of your request i.e. reduce the amount of
detail you***re asking for, the Council may be able to provide the
information free of charge because it would cost less than the appropriate
limit to do so. Please let us know how you wish us to proceed dealing
with this part of your request.

Associated payments received for removals:-

Credit Card & Cash Income **166,777.75
Storage **2,311.00
TOTAL **166,674.75

Sale of scrap vehicles = **893.62
Sale of DVLA removals during the year = **4,704.43

******Recording processes of removal information.

The 3Sixty notice processing system uses the following data fields:-

Serial Number
Vehicle Registration Number
Make of Vehicle
Model of Vehicle
Colour
Tax Disc Number
Tax Expiry Date
Contravention Date
Location
Officer
Observed on
Observed at
Contravention
Current Status of Case
Next Status of Case
Name and address of registered keepers/drivers/payee details
Transaction details i.e. date, time and method of payments made

The 3Sixty software links with the handheld units used by the Civil
Enforcement Officers to issue Penalty Charge Notices. The 3Sixty system
also captures the amount of outstanding cases there are against a vehicle
registration number at the time of issuing a Penalty Charge Notice.

The Penalty Charge Notice case is updated to reflect if the vehicle has
been removed and impounded.

NSL enter details into software called Garage manager in order to report
vehicles to Mansfield Group which are authorised for removal. There is no
data link to the 3Sixty software.

Account Reference number
Job Reference number ( PCN number )
VRM
Make
Model
Colour
Category (removal priority 1,2,3)
Free text entry field ( usually comprising of location, CEO number, Time
issued, Contravention Code, earliest time vehicle can be removed, any
other relevant details )

Mansfield Group use software called V Track *** data fields are as follows

PCN
Reg
Make
Model
Colour
Location
Technician ID
Recovery Vehicle ID
Contravention Code
CEO numbers
PCN amount.

If you are unhappy with the handling or the outcome of this request, you
are entitled to make a request for an internal review / appeal, such view
to be undertaken by Council officers not involved in the handling of your
request.

If you wish to take advantage of the internal appeal / review process,
this can be done by either contacting myself directly, or by contacting
the Corporate Information Manager at the following address quoting the
following reference FOI3188: -

The Corporate FOI Unit
First Floor
1 Lancaster Circus
Birmingham
B4 7AB

Tel No: 0121 303 4876
Email: [Birmingham City Council request email]
If, following the outcome of the internal review/appeal you are not
satisfied with Birmingham City Council***s response in relation to your
request, you are then entitled to apply to the office of the Information
Commissioner for an independent investigation/adjudication.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted by post at:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

or by telephone via their helpline: 08456 30 60 60
or via their online enquiries form which is available on their website
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer
Birmingham City Council
Development Directorate
Performance and Corporate Services
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham
B1 1TR

Tel: 0121 303 3912
Fax: 0121 303 2315
Email: [email address]

Re Use of Public Sector Information
Where Birmingham City Council is the copyright holder of any information
that may be released, re-use for personal, educational or non-commercial
purposes is permitted without further reference to the City Council. Where
the re-use is for other purposes, such as commercial re-use, the applicant
should notify the City Council in writing to seek approval or agree terms
for re-use.

show quoted sections

Dean,

Thankyou for a detailed response to the request.

I look forward to the outcome of the public interest test, regarding the contracts.

Neil

Hi,

Regarding Section 3:

3. A copy of any contracts, indices and appendices between the Council
and these organisations together with the monetary amounts of these
contracts.

--
Snipped Section on Public Interest
--

I will write to you again within 10 working days to inform you of our
decision.

I note that more than 10 working days have passed.

Thanks.
Neil

Birmingham City Council

Date: 15 September 2009
Our Ref: FOI3188

Neil <[FOI #15194 email]>

I write further to your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 seeking a copy of any contracts, indices and
appendices between the Council and these organisations together with the
monetary amounts of these contracts. Please accept my apologies for the
delay in responding to you.

The contracts contain information which could be viewed as being either
confidential or commercially sensitive, therefore it has become necessary
to undertake the public interest test to determine whether or not such
information can be withheld under s41 and/or s43, or should be released.
This is where the Authority needs to balance the public interest in
disclosing the information against the public interest in withholding the
information from publication.

In accordance with the Lord Chancellor's code of practice on handling
Freedom of Information requests, Birmingham City Council consults with
other parties who may be affected by any disclosure, with a view to
considering their comments before Birmingham City Council makes its
decision.

The Freedom of Information Act allows Birmingham City Council, as a public
authority, a further reasonable amount of time to undertake a public
interest test in relation to information potentially subject to an
exemption under the Act.

Birmingham City Council will endeavour to forward a response in relation
to the information sought subject to the public interest test by 30
September 2009. However, it may be that due to additional circumstances,
this limit may need to be extended. If this is the case, you will be
notified within 10 working days together with the reasons for the delay.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact:

The Corporate FOI Unit
First Floor
1 Lancaster Circus
Birmingham
B4 7AB

quoting reference number FOI 3188

Yours faithfully

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer
Birmingham City Council
Development Directorate
Performance and Corporate Services
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham
B1 1TR

Tel: 0121 303 3912
Fax: 0121 303 2315
Email: [email address]

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Birmingham City Council

Date: 30 September 2009
Our Ref: FOI3188

Neil <[FOI #15194 email]>

I write further to your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Our Legal Department and Birmingham City Council are still holding
discussions regarding the contract and the amounts, therefore we are
unable to disclose the information at this time. We may also need to seek
views of the third party before disclosure. We hope to be able to respond
to you within the next 14 days.

Please accept my apologies for the delay.

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer
Birmingham City Council
Development Directorate
Performance and Corporate Services
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham
B1 1TR

Tel: 0121 303 3912
Fax: 0121 303 2315
Email: [email address]

show quoted sections

Birmingham City Council

Date: 23 October 2009
Our Ref: FOI3188

Neil <[FOI #15194 email]>

I write further to your request for the following information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I am writing to request information about the policy regarding car
clamping in Birmingham, and the associated number of clamping/removals
that occur. Specifically I would like: 



3. A copy of any contracts, indices and appendices between the
council and these organisations together with the monetary
amounts of these contracts.

There is no separate contract for the above, only information which
includes the monetary amount of the contract which is enclosed below.

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| | | D H Mansfield Limited |
| | | T/A The Mansfield |
| | | Group |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| SCHEDULE OF | DESCRIPTION | TOTALS OF “Schedule |
| RATES NO. | | B only” |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| 5 | Vehicle Removal, Storage and | 400,000.00 |
| | Pound Operation Services: Annual | |
| | Fixed Costs | |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| 6 | Vehicle Removal, Storage and | 30,000.00 |
| | Pound Operation Services: Start | |
| | Up Costs | |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| 7 | Vehicle Removal, Storage and | 145,540.00 |
| | Pound Operation Services: | |
| | Variable Costs | |
|------------------------------------------------+-----------------------|
| TOTAL FOR SCHEDULE B | 575,540.00 |
|------------------------------------------------+-----------------------|
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Year 1 | 575,540.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Year 2 | 545,540.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Year 3 | 545,540.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | | 1,666,620.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Year 4 | 545,540.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Year 5 | 545,540.00 |
|-------------+----------------------------------+-----------------------|
| | Total | 4,424,320.00 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Please accept my apologies for the delay responding to your request.

f you are unhappy with the handling or the outcome of this request, you
are entitled to make a request for an internal review / appeal, such view
to be undertaken by Council officers not involved in the handling of your
request.

If you wish to take advantage of the internal appeal / review process,
this can be done by either contacting myself directly, or by contacting
the Corporate Information Manager at the following address quoting the
following reference FOI31888: -
The Corporate FOI Unit
First Floor
1 Lancaster Circus
Birmingham
B4 7AB

Tel No: 0121 303 4876
Email: [Birmingham City Council request email]

If, subsequently you are not satisfied with the Council’s decision you
may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at the following address:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545745
Web address: www.ico.gov.uk

Dean Robinson
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer
Birmingham City Council
Development Directorate
Performance and Corporate Services
16th floor, Alpha Tower
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham
B1 1TR

Tel: 0121 303 3912
Fax: 0121 303 2315
Email: [email address]

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Norris left an annotation ()

Watch out for NSL Services Ltd, they set parking ticket targets for traffic wardens. Have a look at some of the posts on http://nutsville.com to find out more.

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