To consider an update on Civil Parking Enforcement within the Borough
The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 13 to 24, which gave details of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) within the Wokingham Borough between June 2018 and June 2019.
Andy Glencross (Assistant Director – Highways), Geoff Hislop (Interim Parking Manager – Car Parks), Martin Heath (Senior Specialist - Traffic Management & Road Safety) and Pauline Jorgensen (Executive Member for Highways and Transport) attended the meeting to present the report and answer any Member questions.
The report outlined that CPE had assisted in improving traffic flow within the Borough by challenging drivers’ previous parking behaviours and increasing awareness by way of warning notices. The service had maintained, as expected, a cost neutral operating model by means of income from penalty notices and parking fees covering the cost of service operation.
The report stated that further improvements to the service were being considered, including introduction of CCTV enforcement at School Keep Clear areas and increasing the number of Civil Enforcement Officers to increase coverage across the Borough.
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) embarked on a full replacement programme of its ticket machines, which was now in its final stages. The expectation was that there would be a significant reduction in lost patrol hours as a direct result of the warranty and maintenance agreement in place.
Country parks management had welcomed the introduction of CPE at their sites as the income derived from their car parks ensured that they were self-sustainable and could continue to provide excellent amenity space for residents at little or no cost to WBC. Since the introduction of CPE, country parks had seen an increase in customers paying for car parking of approximately 20%.
During the ensuing discussions Members raised the following points and suggestions:
· Specifically, how had the objectives of CPE been met? Officer and Executive Member response – CPE had been requested by residents as the police were not able to continually enforce restrictions. The set of objectives was continually evolving in order combat problems as they occurred. A target of 8,000 penalty notices had been set for the service, and in the last year approximately 14,000 penalty notices had been issued, achieving a cost neutral service. Up to this point, the scope of CPE had been relatively small to achieve a proof of concept, and the expansion of the service including CCTV enforcement at schools was being investigated.
· When could the proposed CCTV enforcement at School Keep Clear areas be expected to go live? Officer response – Subject to approval, the traffic orders would take approximately 3 months to go live with additional time required to procure the necessary equipment. In total, CCTV installation could be expected approximately 3 to 6 months following approval. A key component of the scheme was that once compliance at one school was nearly at 100 percent, the equipment could be quickly moved and redeployed to different school location.
· Why had the number of Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) not decreased over time? Officer response – There were a small number of frequent repeat offenders within the Borough. In addition, Civil Enforcement Officers targeted areas until relative compliance had been reached, after they reduced patrols in an area non-compliance tended to begin to rise again.
· Was there a seasonal trend in PCNs issued? Officer response – There was no seasonal trend and PCNs were issued consistently all year round. The biggest factor in PCN variances came from Officer availability, for example, staff leave or sickness. An increase to Civil Enforcement Officer numbers would help to allow for more consistent patrols year round. Officers were looking into proposals to employ an additional 6 Civil Enforcement Officers on a cost neutral basis.
· Any surplus made from CPE could also be used to improve highways, in addition to being put back into the service. Officer response – This was correct.
· What were the figures for average PCNs issued at each school? Officer response – These figures would be collated and provided to Committee Members shortly.
· What plans were there for the schools with no registered patrols? Officer response – Additional Civil Enforcement Officers and the introduction of CCTV enforcement would provide greater patrol coverage at schools across the Borough. If there were concerns regarding a particular school, Members were welcomed to contact the Car Parking Manager directly to investigate.
· What were the nature of parking infringements at Dinton Pastures County Park, and were the majority of these infringements taking place during the evening? Officer response – Parking infringements at Dinton Pastures were not irregular, for example infringements included not having a ticket, parking outside of bays and parking within a disabled bay. The introduction of the new ‘check in, check out’ system had reduced ticketing for overstays. Activity groups such as the Scouts had been given season tickets for their leading staff, with spares available for parents to use in special circumstances. In addition, there was a 10 minute grace period for pick up and drop off times for parents. Data regarding season tickets would be collated and provided to the Committee Members shortly, and Officers would investigate what data regarding timings of PCNs issued at Dinton Pastures was available and feed back to Committee Members.
· Why was Rose Street being allowed to return to a paper permit system? Executive Member response – WBC were trying to discourage the use of paper permits as a paper system costed more, was open to fraud and resale. However, the team was conscious that moving to an online system created obstacles for some residents, which was why there was a call centre service which would do the computer administration for the customer over the phone. Rose Street was being allowed to return to the paper system due to a particular need and specific concerns made by residents.
1) Andy Glencross, Geoff Hislop, Martin Heath and Pauline Jorgensen be thanked for attending the meeting;
2) data regarding PCNs issued at each school be circulated to Members of the Committee;
3) the Committee be kept updated on the progress of CCTV enforcement installation at schools;
4) data regarding season tickets for activity group leaders at Dinton Pastures be circulated to Members of the Committee;
5) officers investigate what data is available regarding timings of PCNs issued at Dinton Pastures, and feedback their findings to Members of the Committee;
6) an annual update on CPE be scheduled on the Committee’s 2020/21 work programme.