Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Executive held on 04/10/2004
CAR PARKING STRATEGY DEVELOPMENTS
Summary & Purpose
This report sets out a number of developments in the car parking function and their effect on the Council’s Parking Strategy, car parks management and revenue income
Quality of Life Implications
Prevention and Control
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
EXECUTIVE – 4TH OCTOBER 2004
CAR PARKING STRATEGY DEVELOPMENTS
[Wards Affected: All]
Summary and purpose
This report sets out a number of developments in the car parking function and their effect on the Council’s Parking Strategy, car parks management and revenue income.
Quality of life implications
– social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):
Natural Resource Use
Biodiversity and Nature
and Active Communities
The prudent management of the Council’s car parking stock can influence the retail and social vitality of the town centres and levels of traffic congestion.
There are no direct implications in this report.
Resource and Legal Implications
The decisions taken on the issues set out in this report will have implications for the staff resources required in the parking office.
Parking enforcement may only be carried out by the Council under the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTA) 1984 or the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTA) 1991. Each has implications in terms of resources, risks and costs.
1. The Council published its Car Parking Strategy Document in 2000, following a wide-ranging review of national, regional and local parking issues and extensive consultation with stakeholders. The Strategy set out the Council’s aims and objectives for its parking function for the periods 2000 - 2005. A review will be needed to determine the Council’s vision, aims and objectives for the succeeding period. In the interim, there are policy developments in the parking function, referred to in this report that require determination at this time.
Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE)
2. Responsibility for the enforcement of on-street parking regulations (yellow lines and permitted parking bays) is about to pass from Surrey Police to the Traffic Authority, Surrey County Council, Transportation Services (SCC). In order for SCC, its agents or contractors to undertake the enforcement, parking offences must be decriminalised. This requires a legislative process including application to the Secretary of State for Transport for the requisite legal powers.
3. Surrey County Council has invited Waverley to carry out the enforcement of the on-street parking regulations, as its Agent, following decriminalisation. The Executive, at its meeting on 21st July 2003, declined that invitation. Further assurances on the financing of the enforcement operation have since been made by Surrey County Council and your Officers have been instructed to investigate the matter in more detail in discussion with Surrey Officers. There are implications, for Waverley’s off-street car parks managements, in the introduction of DPE whether this Council elects to opt in, or opt out, of on-street activity. Those implications will be the subject of a separate report which is in the process of being prepared.
Level of Excess Charge
4. Excess charges should be set at levels that will achieve a high degree of compliance with parking controls. They should be readily accepted and understood by regular and occasional users. This will encourage payment and minimise the cost of recovering unpaid excess charges. The Council has tailored its level of enforcement according to the seriousness of non-compliance with parking controls.
5. Excess Charge Notices (ECNs) are currently issued for 4 categories of offence:
Offence A Failure to display a valid ticket (penalty £60)
Offence B Not parked wholly in a marked bay (penalty £60)
Offence C Parked in a bay reserved for Disabled Badge holders (penalty £60)
Offence D Displaying an expired ticket (penalty £40)
6. All penalties are reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days. The upper penalty charge accords with the maximum permitted under the on-street parking regulations.
7. Officers were requested to consider whether it was still appropriate to continue to acknowledge the disparity of offences by the imposition of different levels of financial penalty. It was determined the current arrangement is fair and equitable. Those who have set out to abide by the regulations, by the purchase of parking ticket initially, should not be penalised to the same level as those who have avoided payment completely. It is proposed that the level of charge for Offence D (Displaying an expired ticket) should remain at £40.
8. Some neighbouring authorities, where Sunday trading activity is extensive, have introduced a charge for parking on Sundays. Officers were asked to consider if there would be any revenue opportunities for the introduction of Sunday charging in Waverley. It was determined that the level of trading activity in Waverley’s town centres was not yet at a level which would make Sunday charging, and the associated enforcement operation, economically viable. The on-street parking restrictions in the town centres are largely applicable to Mondays to Saturdays. Sunday charging off-street, in the absence of corresponding on-street restrictions, might simply displace vehicles to the street with consequent congestion and obstruction.
9. There, are however, trading activities in some car parks. The monthly Farmers’ Market held in Farnham Central Car Park, is an example of where commercial gain is then made from the use of Waverley’s land and facilities. No charge is currently made for that activity, as there are no revenue losses on a non-charging day. The facilities were initially made available, free of charge, when the viability of the market was being tested. Your Officers feel that the Council should share in the commercial success of trading activity in our car parks regardless of the day of its operation.
Parking Concessions for Disabled Badge Holders
10. Waverley provides dedicated bays in its off-street car parks for those whose mobility difficulties entitle them to a disabled persons ‘Blue Badge’ issued by Social Services. The number of spaces provided varies according to need and car park capacity. Crown Court, Godalming, for instance has 13 spaces dedicated for Blue Badge holder use, in consequence of the disabled support group, Discass, operating within it. Blue Badge holders may park without charge in any dedicated bay, or any other bay for general use within the car park. The dedicated spaces are of extra width to enable wheelchair users and others who need to open car doors to their fullest extent without obstruction.
11. The Council receives no income from the dedicated spaces which are normally located in the car park in the position most accessible to the shopping centre. Long-stay use by Blue Badge holders in other spaces also prevents the use of those spaces by potential paying short-term customers. There has been a significant increase in the issue and use of Blue Badges in the last few years, the majority to the ambulant disabled, in consequence of an ageing population.
12. Many local authorities now charge for ‘disabled’ parking and, in many pay-on-departure car parks, no concessions are offered to Blue Badge holders. On-street regulations permit ‘disabled’ parking without restriction, or payment where charges operate, for up to a 3-hour stay. Possession of a Blue Badge now has little relationship to personal financial means. It is therefore proposed that free parking for Blue Badge holders be restricted to 3 hours maximum stay where the relevant facilities are in place.
13. As Blue Badge holders might include some who rely on wheelchairs for mobility, charging cannot reasonably be implemented until the pay and display machines are accessible to the wheelchair bound. This will require the removal of the normal kerbed islands around pay and display machines and at least one machine mounted at wheelchair height. There is a significant cost implication to this. It is proposed, therefore, that the Parking Order is amended to permit charging for Blue Badge holders but that this be not implemented until the relevant facilities are made available as car parks and machines are upgraded or replaced.
14. In November 2003, the Council agreed revised Pay and Display Car Park charges effective from 1st December 2003. During the subsequent Budget process, the Council agreed that it would be appropriate to review the Car Park charges again during 2004, with the increase being effective from December 2004 and an appropriate allowance was made in the 2004/5 Estimates for this. Accordingly, the Executive will consider proposals for revision of some charges at its next meeting.
15. For some users of Waverley car parks, it is considered that the availability of a Waverley-wide ticket would be a useful facility. At the moment, season tickets and contract tickets are sold for a specific car park only. It is proposed that this ticket would be valid in all car parks, except contract car parks and be sold at a premium in relation to the most expensive season ticket car parks, i.e. at £1,000 per annum.
Distal Car Parking at Reduced Rates
16. There is already a well-structured short, medium and long-term designation of car parks with appropriate tariffs to encourage long-stay users to stay on the periphery of our towns. In terms of influencing behaviour, perhaps the area where pricing can have the most direct and beneficial effect is in categorising car parks so that the distal are the most price effective and central are the most expensive. Members have already agreed a price recategorisation with East Farnham car parks. This will have the benefit of encouraging parking in the new Riverside provision, with the existing Riverside and St James becoming town centre rates and the new East Street scheme underground car park attracting premium rates. It is proposed that in all other new opportunities for car parking recategorisation, regard is had to creating distal car parking at reduced rates, thereby avoiding town centre vehicular movements and further air quality deterioration.
Parking Services Contract
17. Since 1991 car parking management facilities, including patrolling, cash collecting and delivery, excess charge (penalty) issuing and general security, has been carried out by a private sector contractor; in the first instance Arkeco Environmental Services, and latterly Vinci Park Services UK Ltd. The existing contract for car parking services is due to be re-let in 2006. It is considered that the best advantage to Waverley is to be had by continuing to tender this contract with private sector companies.
18. The Parking Services Contractor provides comprehensive cash collection service from all of the ticket machines and secures the safe deposit of the cash boxes at a secure location. Council employees currently undertake the counting of the cash. Officers are mindful of the cost effectiveness and efficiency of the counting operation as well as health and safety of employees and propose that the cash counting service is the subject of further investigation in respect of the possibility of the function being carried out by the private sector.
Compliance through Effective Enforcement
19. There is evidence-based opinion that maximising car parking income goes hand in hand with effective enforcement. This has characterised the management of the excess charge function for the last two years and has created the dual effect of ensuring pay-and-display and ensuring that, once issued, excess charge notices are enforced. It is considered that this stance should continue.
Parking opportunities in the Borough
20. Parking is at a premium in the Borough’s town centres and it is now difficult to locate a space in a town centre at peak times. The business vitality of the Borough’s town centres is dependent upon people visiting the centres. If a parking space cannot be easily located, visitors may choose to do business in another Borough. The Council’s parking space in the Borough has been reduced over the years. Officers consider that the Council’s town centre parking space should be protected and only be given up for development where alternative town centre parking or a park-and-ride scheme for the public can be secured and protected to ensure car park use of the land into the future.
21. To consider the development opportunities in the Borough will require a multi-disciplinary team or development consultant, as existing resources will not permit the time required to provide a comprehensive review.
(i) Opportunities for underground, decked and multi storey car parks should be investigated.
(ii) Other councils receive income from the use of their car parks for activities such as car boot sales for example. It is proposed that such opportunities for alternative use of car parks are investigated.
(iii) Opportunities to expand the Borough’s car park provision should be investigated.
(iv) There is no charge for parking at the unmade car park at Weyhill in Haslemere, known as The Fairground. It is proposed that this situation is reviewed.
22. It is proposed that these matters form the subject of a separate report to the Executive in due course.
23. It is concluded that the areas of charge described in this report as proposed under each section be endorsed by the Executive as an interim review of the Council’s parking strategy.
It is therefore recommended that:
1. the current position in relation to Decriminalised Parking Enforcement be noted;
2. the level of excess charge for Offence D (Displaying an Expired Ticket) remains unchanged;
3. Sunday charging be not introduced but that Officers should introduce charges for car park based Sunday trading activities;
4. the Parking Order, literature, notices and signs be amended to introduce a 3-hour maximum stay in any one charging period by a Blue Badge holder and to permit charging for Blue Badge holders when the relevant facilities are made available and pay and display machines are progressively up-graded and replaced;
5. the Executive reviews at a later meeting proposals for car park fees and charges for the year commencing 1st December 2004;
6. the facility of a Waverley-wide car parking ticket, valid in all pay and display car parks in the Borough and at an initial price of £1,000, be approved for introduction from April 2005;
7. the concept of continuing cheaper distal car parking be endorsed and that this be introduced whenever possible;
8. the concept of continuing to operate the patrol of car parks and cash collection through the private sector be endorsed;
9. the cash counting operation be reviewed and the outcome of the review be reported back to the Executive;
10. the continuation of a robust enforcement policy be endorsed; and
11. the range of issues in paragraphs 20-22 of the report relating to property and asset management be reviewed and reported back to the Executive.
There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.