Agenda item

PARKING SERVICES - CONTRACTOR PERFORMANCE REVIEW, APCOA

Minutes:

Report ES18007

 

Report ES18007highlighted a number of performance issues at the start of the ten-year Parking Services Contract awarded to APCOA Parking (UK) Ltd on 3rd April 2017 (jointly procured between L B Bromley and L B Bexley with

both authorities having separate contracts).

 

The contract provided a number of challenges for APCOA in the first two months given:

·  the scope of the contract;

·  delivering services for two boroughs; and

·  a number of services traditionally undertaken by the Council being handed over to APCOA on a single date.

 

A number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) address key areas of the contract with monthly invoice deductions made for poor performance. 

 

On enforcement and deployment of Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), APCOA fell below minimum standards on several occasions during initial months of the contract and a number of significant deductions were made from monthly contract payments. A number of CEOs employed by the previous contractor opted not to transfer to APCOA creating a knowledge gap and logistical/operational weakness. New managers, supervisors, and CEOs were sought with a consequent settling in period and with the lease for a permanent base not secured until September 2017, APCOA moved in the meantime from a temporary office for three months to the Civic centre for a six-week period.

 

To help fill the knowledge gap, officers offered advice and instruction on local matters and best operational practice. Although APCOA’s revised deployment plan will help meet contract requirements, officers will continue close working to stabilise and build on improvements in recent months, ensuring satisfactory geographical coverage, deployed hours and shifts, and agreed modes of transports (moped, car or foot). 

 

Between April and May 2017, some payment machines were unable to take customer payments due to familiarisation with collection schedules and collecting and transporting cash for payment. Machine repair times were also an issue as additional training was undertaken to manage and repair machines. APCOA completed additional training in May and June ensuring that all engineers are capable of repairing machines. Enhanced training was also provided to Kiosk Attendants for fixes normally completed by engineers at the Civic Centre and Hill multi story car parks. APCOA also improved their service agreement with machine manufacturers to provide a better service when local engineers are unable to fix a machine.

 

Although ACPOA are now responsible for many business processes previously undertaken by the Shared Parking Service (e.g. scanning/logging appeals, printing official PCN recovery documents, email enquiries, Enforcement Agent Warrants, IT management, and reconciling banked monies) considerable work was necessary to fine tune the processes and ensure the full integration of many IT systems. On occasions, some KPIs in this area were not met and KPI penalties applied.

 

APCOA also underestimated the level of litter which can quickly accumulate in car parks, including instances of fly tipping. Close performance monitoring and officer advice assisted APCOA understand local issues and hotspots but it took a number of weeks for KPI standards on cleaning and maintenance to be met.

 

Areas where APCOA had delivered to a required standard included: (i) implementing the new Permit Smarti System working with latest web technologies and mobile devices so that customers can manage their account online; and (ii) implementing a new customer appeal web interface.

In recent months fundamental improvements had been made in many service areas with issues often addressed quickly and effectively. CEO deployment issues required further input; however, improvement had been made and deployment plans sought to deliver and maintain standards.

 

Kim Challis, Regional Managing Director APCOA UK and Ireland, attended for the item. 

 

In explaining why APCOA appeared to have insufficiently planned for the contract and not retained enough CEOs, Members were advised that some staff left close to the contract’s go-live date and it was not possible to recruit sufficient numbers in the short time period. Those leaving also included CEO supervisors. Ms Challis apologised for the company’s performance and explained that she had personally invested much effort to help improve matters. Under TUPE, it is possible for staff to stay to the point of transfer; APCOA changed rotas and shift patterns and when personnel left, the company lost knowledge. The contract continued to be large for APCOA and senior level engagement continued. In future when taking on contracts, APCOA would document knowledge. 

 

The CEO recruitment drive had continued with continuous training provided for CEOs. In valuing staff, APCOA provided monthly performance reviews (PDRs) and at a softer level facilitated rewards such as free tea and coffee in bad weather. Dryers had also been installed in CEO offices to dry wet clothing. Good feedback had been received on the approach by CEOs making enforcement enquiries against blue-badge misuse and APCOA also provided an employee of the year award scheme. 

 

Officers considered the KPIs to be at an appropriate value with financial penalties at a level to impact the company’s profitability. A sizeable range of KPIs had been provided for enforcement, being a large area of the contract. Ms Challis was not aware of another APCOA parking services contract in the UK and Ireland having a similar (extensive) level of KPIs.

 

A crossover of staff existed within Bromley and Bexley boroughs; the Radio Control Room is based at L B Bexley. Holiday and sickness cover is also maintained across the boroughs as well as sharing of best practice e.g. blue badge enforcement. 

 

Officers felt that KPIs in the contract had the desired effect. Getting defaults without interruption to service flow is a difficult area when bringing forward a contract. ACPOA agreed the KPIs; punitive measures at the start of a contact can have undesirable consequences at a later stage and if KPIs are less punitive, contractors can add value to a pricing structure later. Some defaults had yet to be applied for the initial poor performance (applying at either the end of the contract term and/or following a trading period of four years).

 

On areas of innovation, the new Permit Smarti System would go live on

1st April 2018 working with latest web technologies and mobile devices. A customer can manage his or her account without contacting the Council and a number of new functions allowed for greater control of back office work and reporting. The technology functioned on tablets as well as PCs and multiple reminders can be sent about permits. Vouchers can also be provided and contractors can apply online for dispensation to park on double yellow lines. Other online transactions include parking season ticket applications. 

 

Potential financial/operational benefits were being reviewed and it was intended to improve customer experience. Businesses were also being engaged. APCOA proposed to convert the Civic Centre and Hill multi-story car parks to Pay and Display including an option for cashless payment via smart phones or other devices (consistent with other car parks and on street locations). With the contract covering a ten-year period, sufficient flexibility was necessary to deal with change and innovation. 

 

RESOLVED that the content of Report ES18007 be noted, particularly the issues occurring at the start of the contract and actions taken to rectify the problems.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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