‘Teething problems’ with car parking rules lead to calls for review
PUBLISHED: 07:45 17 November 2020
“Teething problems” with new car parking rules in East Suffolk have led councillors to recommend a review into the latest system.
Civil parking enforcement powers transferred from the police to East Suffolk Council in April, freeing up police resources and allowing local authorities to combat nuisance parking more stringently.
While the switch has helped to clamp down on illegal parking in many problem areas, with more than 8,000 fines issued in around six months, other problems over car park charges and permit schemes have emerged.
MORE: Tougher parking enforcement begins across Suffolk
Chief among those are that free 30-minute car parking is now only available once a day, while the cost of some car park permits have ballooned.
Carers also say they can only use permits for 20 days out of every 30 for visiting people they are supporting, while there have also been questions over how accessible signs are for wheelchair users.
Problems have been also reported with the RingGo phone app, which people are encouraged to use to pay for parking.
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At a special meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee on Monday night, Felixstowe councillor Tracey Green said: “The [illegal] street parking has really cleared up and driven people to the car parks, and that has really made quite a difference in the town centre.”
But councillor Caroline Topping said permits for carers had been an issue, particularly when residents without internet access applying for visitor permits have not been able to use the phone line on weekends or after 8pm.
She said: “If you have carers that, for example, work six days a week, that equals 24 days but their permit only lasts for 20 days.”
Councillor Mike Deacon said: “As the general public see it, they see a huge hike in the season ticket passes.”
According to a council report ahead of the meeting, the annual car park charges were not standardised prior to the transfer of enforcement powers.
That meant the Sizewell car park was as little as £25, while others in the district were as much as £400.
MORE: Parking ‘perk’ lost in permit shake-up
A standard rate has now been introduced, but that has resulted in some car parks having annual passes skyrocketing in price.
The committee has made a series of recommendations, including a review of annual car park prices, simplifying the online system for permits, considering contactless payment and bringing in a paper permit scheme for those who do not use the internet.
Norman Brooks, cabinet member for transport, said the team had done a very good job to make the changes in such a short space of time - but added: “There are teething problems which we are working very hard to sort, and we will continue to do so.”
Mr Brooks also hailed the reduction in illegal parking across the district, which had been “one of the driving values” of the changeover.
Council leader Steve Gallant said the move towards using RingGo was more environmentally friendly and more efficient for motorists, while reducing free 30-minute parking to just one per day for motorists was aimed at encouraging them to use their cars less.
A date for East Suffolk Council’s cabinet to assess the recommendations has not yet been given, but it is unlikely to be before spring next year.
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