HELLO again everyone, and welcome to my latest column for The Northern Echo, which tries to give an informative insight into the world of security.

I’ll start with an update on the public warning I issued last month about bogus car parking fines after an incident involving a Sparta task force officer who parked in the car park outside McDonald’s at Newton Aycliffe.

The officer had called in for a coffee at the start of his night shift at 7.14pm and then went off to do his job, monitoring various sites for our clients through the night. He called back at the same McDonald’s venue at 5.20am and we were later served with a financial penalty from a private parking company, claiming he’d been parked there all night.

Luckily for us, and unluckily for the parking company – UK Parking Control Ltd (UKPC) – all our vehicles are fitted with Geo-Tracking systems, so we could prove that the alleged parking offence was a load of tosh.

Well, I’m delighted to say that we have now received a full apology from UKPC in the form of a letter. It states: “We appreciate the inconvenience this has caused you. It is not our intention to cause undue worry and frustration when enforcing our clients’ parking regulations. We have investigated the appeal, based on the information you have submitted, and confirm that in this instance the parking charge has been cancelled.

“We strive to deliver a high quality service that enhances the existing quality standards insisted upon by our client and ensure our wardens are stringently trained to meet those expected standards. On behalf of ourselves and our client, we apologise for any inconvenience.”

I always believe in life that we should apologise for our mistakes, so I appreciate UKPC’s letter. That said, the reason I took this stance was to highlight the danger of false parking charges being made, and to draw it to the attention of people who would not have the technology that is at Sparta’s disposal. We had irrefutable proof of our innocence – others may not have been in that position and felt intimidated into paying the fine.

I’m satisfied that we’ve flagged up an important issue and sorted out another fine mess. Be warned.


I’M delighted to report that The Sparta Group continues to go from strength to strength.

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on introducing a new rural division of the business, providing ‘Beat Bobbies’ to help provide extra security in isolated areas, including farms. There’s been a really good response, especially in Teesdale, so you’ll be hearing more about that in future updates.

We have also started working on a massive new contract to provide security for one of the UK’s leading energy supplier, looking after power plants in the North-East, Manchester and Barnsley.

Middlesbrough Council has also asked us back to provide guards and security systems for some industrial sites, so they were clearly happy with the service we provided last year.

We are steadily evolving into a facilities management company, providing a full range of services required on sites, not just security, but containers, cleaning, access control, fencing, and welfare. This is not a case of moving away from security but building on our expertise in that area and providing a more holistic service for clients.

We are doing a lot of work for demolition companies at the moment, including a major site in Newcastle. You can imagine the amount of equipment involved in a demolition job, and it all needs protecting.

We have also been engaged to guard Stillers Distribution, at Newton Aycliffe, which is another important site.

But it’s not just industrial sites that are our focus. The range of work that comes in never ceases to amaze me, and it’s nice to see planning starting to open up again ahead of the lockdown restrictions being eased. For example, we’ve been asked to provide stewards and parking support officers for the Harrogate Flower Show that’s scheduled for later in the year.

With the Easter bank holiday coming up, we’ve been asked to return with marshals to guard the waterfalls area at Richmond and make sure crowds don’t get out of hand.

And we are also getting lots of bookings for weddings, making sure that marquees and equipment are guarded. So many couples have had the heartbreak of having their weddings postponed so we want to do everything we can to make sure nothing goes wrong ahead of their big day.

In stark contrast, we were also brought in to provide security at a funeral in the north of England following a family dispute. We provided discreet surveillance and, happily, everything passed off without any trouble.

With the business progressing so well, we are continuing to create jobs, and have just appointed a new Sales Executive – welcome to the team, Jon Tumaga.

We are also placing more emphasis on the business being environmentally friendly, so we have another hybrid vehicle as well as a 4x4, with lower carbon emissions, joining the fleet. Sparta’s drive to protect the environment will continue.

Finally, I’m proud to announce that Sparta is now certified as being Disability Confident and we are committed to increasing the number of disabled employees in a variety of areas of the business.

The Northern Echo:


JUST remember that 85 per cent of burglaries start during the day, with crooks checking out properties, before coming back under cover of darkness. Be aware of any suspicious activity. It’s also the case that 42 per cent of burglaries on business premises are internal, so don’t be complacent.


AS a committed Christian, I always end this column with an extract from The Bible. This month it’s Exodus 20:7: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

The reason I’ve highlighted this passage is that we all tend to blaspheme – and I’m no exception. We’ve recently introduced a swear-box in the office and I was a tenner down within the first three hours!

With God’s help, I’m determined to change.