Now one of the most controversial issues you can get in local government is that of parking and this week sees the Council Exec consider two issues on Tuesday night .
The first item recommends that we replace the Pay on Foot system at Main Square and Knoll Road at a cost of £213k with a newer version. This is probably a good idea despite the cost as the alternative is to go back to a pay and display system where you have to guess the length of your stay and pay up-front.
The second item recommends that we take over from SCC in doing the on-street parking enforcement as SCC have decided that they don’t want to do it any more. The interesting aspect of this appears to be that it only seems to make financial sense for Surrey Heath if we get bad parking across the borough and thereby generate lots of penalty notices (i.e. fines!) The worry here is whether parking officers will get a ticket target for their work..
Whilst there is a role for enforcement, I think that most residents when faced with bad parking in their street just want the cars removed and a longer-term solution found. Issuing a few tickets here and there may deter some but is only one short-term solution.
The real issue here is that the system for parking charges has not been right for a long time. Last year, the parking income was around £1.6m which sounds great but unfortunately was the lowest level since at least 2001/02. We also have many people who park in residential roads all day and walk 10 or 15 minutes each way rather than paying to use the car parks.
Perhaps now is the time for a more radical solution used by planes and trains. Their pricing model involves putting up the prices at popular times and heavily discounting at off-peak times. So for car parks, an option is to put the prices up at Christmas and other times when it is packed but in return on cold wet dreary mornings, we push the prices down instead. Controversial? Probably…but at least worth considering in technology times.
The other aspect is the car parking income basically pays towards some of the other Council services. People hate the idea of paying the Council any money but if it clearly goes to services that your parents may use, they might well be slightly less cross – worth a thought….