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Agenda item

Parking update report


Jim Rogers, interim Head of Parking, provided an introduction to the item. The report summarises current project work which will be delivered over the next 12 – 24 months. ANPR is operating well and will shortly be rolled out to enforce parking restrictions outside schools. It is thought the necessary funding has been secured to realise this development. Use of Ringo, the cashless parking system, has increased with close to a 50/50 split between cash and online payment being made for parking.


The procurement of the new back office system is progressing with a draft specification now available. It is in plan that a new virtual permits system will be procured before the end of the financial year. This aims to improve the accessibility of services to customers. Currently in its second year of operation, the diesel levy will be reviewed during its third year. It is hoped this will have changed behaviours away from diesel cars to less polluting forms of transport. Free Christmas parking is currently being evaluated with the practicalities for offering this for a fixed period of time being explored. Lastly, it is now possible to report illegal parking outside of business hours. During the first month of operation offering this addition to the service, 344 calls were received leading to site visits.


In response to member questions, officers clarified:

·         (Jim Rogers) The ANPR locations are subject to rolling review. Where compliance improves, other locations are explored for relocation;

·         (Chris Lee) The objective of the diesel levy is to improve air quality. It has been accepted that the Panel will agree the terms of reference for the review of the levy that will happen during the next municipal year. It is anticipated that this will consider the number of permits requested in year 1 compared to year 2 of operation and compare any reflected change in diesel car ownership against the degree of change during the same period nationally. It will need to be determined if a perceived or actual large drop in diesel car ownership would mean the levy is considered successful and/or if lower drop would deem it ineffective;

·         (Jim Rogers) The amount of revenue raised through the diesel levy will be shared with Panel members subsequent to the meeting. All funds raised through the levy have to be used for highways related spending;

·         (Jim Rogers) All notifications of vehicle changes made to the Council for parking permits are verified to check if the vehicle is diesel. Initially, this verification is done with the owner and subsequently this is verified against the DVLA database;

·         (Jim Rogers) Virtual parking permits will mean that residents may not be able to tell whether or not a vehicle is parked legally as there won’t be anything on the car to denote this status. However, enforcement officers will be able to check the legality of the parking;

·         (Jim Rogers) Residents can now report illegal parking out of usual office hours by calling the usual number and selecting a designated option to take them through to the team leader’s mobile phone or the team answerphone;

·         (Jim Rogers) Unaware of any complaints regarding street electric charging points taking up parking spaces;

·         (Jim Rogers) Using the ANPR system, officers will be able to view in real time in the office contraventions of parking restrictions outside schools. Regulations require that a second officer views and agrees these contraventions before a penalty charge notice can be issued. Merton’s two camera cars are still in use. However, they aren’t used to enforce parking restrictions outside schools because they too struggle to find an appropriate place to park. Rather they are now being used to successfully enforce bus stops;

·         (Jim Rogers) The large number of calls received by the parking team in relation to parking permits reflects that the period covered included the implementation of the diesel levy and the introduction of a number of control parking zones;

·         (Jim Rogers) Working in partnership with organisations such as LoveWimbledon, it has been established that the free Christmas parking initiative hasn’t generated an increase in footfall/income for local businesses. Given the cost to the Council (in lost revenue from parking fees) it needs to be demonstrated that free Christmas parking is having a positive benefit for the local economy;

·         (Jim Rogers) The level of saving anticipated from going to all payments for parking being cashless will be supplied after the meeting. A phased approach will be taken to going to all cashless payment. This is likely to happen as the number of controlled parking zones increases;

·         (Chris Lee) Cashless parking operators have alliances with newsagents to allow payment for parking where the driver is unable to use the cashless parking system;

·         (Jim Rogers) Less than 1% of the Penalty Charge Notices issued proceed to London Tribunals for adjudication.  There has been an increase in the total number of cases going to Tribunal now compared to 2018 but this reflects the increase in PCNs issued following the implementation of the ANPR system and an increase in traffic contraventions being captured;

·         (Jim Rogers) Adjudications are tracked and assessed and if it were ever to be deemed appropriate, Merton would alter its practice accordingly. However, some variability in adjudications has been noticed;

·         (Jim Rogers) How new requirements on anti-idling will be enforced in the borough is still being considered. In part this will be determined by requirements. If this is viewed as a parking contravention, it will require enforcement by an officer.


RESOLVED: To consider the options for free Christmas parking as part of the wider budget scrutiny at the November 2018 meeting.


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