Members are asked to discuss and consider the headlines from the Council’s parking strategy.
Damian James, Assistant Director: Contracts informed members the Chairman had requested a new reporting format from officers designed to generate debate. The report had a number of questions throughout the report to allow scrutiny Members to help shape the Parking Strategy which would be put forward to the Executive for decision.
It was explained that Bracknell Forest Council was responsible for parking enforcement under the Traffic Management Act 2004. Members were being asked to discuss the new Parking Strategy which would run 2019-2024 and the Strategy would inform the new contract for parking which was due to expire next year and last up to eight years. The objective of the new Parking Strategy was to enforce parking fairly and encourage off street parking.
Members asked for the following points to be taken into account in relation to the Strategy:
Question 1.1 ‘Is wholly outsourcing parking enforcement to SABA (formerly known as Indigo) the right model in the future?’
· Consider using Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to address nuisance parkers.
· The definition of nuisance parking needed to be clearer in the Strategy. E.g. parking on pavements and walkways.
· Data highlighting areas density of parking problems around the Borough should be included in the Strategy.
· Clarification of the proportion of parking fines issued but not collected would be useful.
· Action should be given to consider how the Council worked with external partners, such as Silva Homes. E.g. identification of grass verges big enough to turn over to parking without detriment to the green space.
· Asses training for parking enforcement staff, especially around enforcement of the Blue Badge scheme.
· Consider subterranean parking and other options, particularly in new developments and community hubs, where space is precious.
· The Council should work more closely with DVLC on enforcement.
Question 1.2 ‘What are the Panel’s views for cost v quality?
· The Strategy needs to take account of a perceived reduction in customer service if people do not see parking enforcement officers on the street.
· Use of new technologies was good because it would ‘free up’ parking enforcement officers in town and enable them to work out of town more often.
· Have a contingency of extra resources, (currently 17) should occasion require.
· The Strategy should analyse data about whether people were having difficulties using ANPR or other technologies.
Question 1.3 ‘What is the Panel’s view on the use of technology in improving the customer’s experience?’
· The Strategy should take into account the different parking pressures in different areas, i.e. residential v business needs and future proof according to build density in different areas.
· Cashless system not appropriate at this point in time as a number of residents still used cash although it was recognised this had a cost impact in terms of collecting cash from pay points.
· Offer as wide a range of payment options as possible including cash, debit/credit card, online portal and apps.
· Build in flexibility to incorporate new technologies as they come on stream during the life of the contract.
· Find a mechanism for keeping abreast of people’s changing habits in terms or parking (i.e. how to charge your car if staying in a restaurant for a long time) and methods of payment.
· Look at the potential for businesses to pay for their customers parking i.e. allowing them to purchase validator machines.
Question 1.4 ‘What is the Panel’s view on the Resident’s Parking scheme and the potential future for it?’
· Residents should have additional opportunities to opt into the Resident Parking Scheme.
· Recognise one solution does not fit all.
· Review scheme across the Borough for patchiness i.e. consider new developments and roads which were previously not offered it as an option such as the road in between Faircross and Friendship Way, dependent on need.
· Foster a closer working relationship with Silva Homes to assess use of their assets and promote an increase in car parking spaces as well as electric parking spaces.
· Continue to support the Resident Parking Scheme and look into expanding it, although it was recognised this would have cost implications for the Council because the scheme was not self -funding.
· Seek the specific views of Members with the Resident Parking scheme in their wards as they knew what the issues were and what residents complained about most.
· Consider if it would be appropriate to offer people on a low income a discount although it was recognised this may be difficult to enforce if people were not appropriately using the parking resources they already had i.e. garages used as storage.
· Clarify the reason for the Resident Parking Scheme and promote to residents as it was brought in to protect residents from external parking and was not a panacea to all parking issues, so should only apply to those who would benefit from it.
Members raised the following points outside the scope of the Parking Strategy but related to parking generally:
· Members queried the demand for electrical charging units at car parks in the Borough and were informed spaces were well used and additional spaces were added when capacity was reached. Inevitably, it was tricky to judge how many spaces were needed and officers recognised some people were concerned about availability of electric charging points.
· Members were informed new parking standards adopted in 2016 included requiring new developments to have electric charging points and the Council was encouraging operators of community spaces and large retailers, such as supermarkets, to have parking spaces for electric cars. However, the Council was not able to enforce private companies to accommodate parking spaces for electric cars. It was agreed officers should look into developing parking standards for community hubs.
· Given the impact of parking on climate change, Members asked if it would it be possible to stop issuing paper parking tickets?
· There was a query over the current contract provider’s capacity in their pound to allow for removal of vehicles.
· Consider incentives for town centre workers and residents to use public transport.
· Members requested more information about how many parking permits had been issued and the amount of revenue received from the scheme.