A Master Plan for parking

ParkingRaising standards in the parking profession and enabling our members to provide better services for the motorist are the key aims of the British Parking Association (BPA). To do this we need to work closely with government and key stakeholders and, having launched our Master Plan for Parking, we kick started a programme to achieve this.

The BPA’s Master Plan for Parking sets out what we think government must do to achieve success in the parking arena. We have specified a series of actions on which we have campaigned in the past and continue to do so. However, while the issues in the Master Plan are fundamental to that success, they are not exhaustive and we will add more as issues develop and our
profession matures.

We want to continue to work with government and its agencies to achieve these objectives and we want to do that in a constructive and consultative manner that will achieve the best outcomes for the consumer and for the wider parking profession. It should be noted that the Master Plan for Parking is the BPA vision for the whole of the UK and that there are variations for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; localised versions are being produced for these countries.

What does it say?

Now, let’s take a look at the plan and what it says.

1. We want to achieve coordination in government for all parking issues so that there is a holistic approach to solving problems and raising standards across the parking sector. Currently, in England for example, parking issues are dealt with by a number of government departments:
• the Department for Transport – regulation of parking on the public highway
• the Home Office – vehicle immobilisation through the Crime and Security Act
• the Department of Health – hospital parking.

Consistency is imperative and we want to see a single government department responsible for parking in each UK country.

2. We want to see an independent appeals service for the entire private parking sector, similar to the principles established by existing road traffic law provided for local authority parking enforcement throughout the UK.

We want to see government legislate to make the owner liable for charges imposed in private car parks or on private and unregulated land to bring this in line with the principles established by the existing road traffic law or require the owner to identify the driver.

We want government to make membership of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) compulsory for all parking operators that undertake enforcement on private land.

In the longer term, we want government to fully regulate private parking operators through working in partnership with them. While the BPA has established a robust form of self-regulation through its Approved Operator Scheme, our long term objective is to see a regulated environment that is fair to both operator and motorist, and meets the needs of landowners who have a right to protect their land.

3. We support high standards of car parking for hospitals (compliant with the BPA’s Hospital Parking Charter) and we want government and health service providers across the UK to recognise that free car parking does not deliver higher standards. We want to change the policy adopted by the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Government and for them to re-introduce charges in accordance with the practices set out in the BPA’s Hospital Parking Charter.

In a hospital car park there is a need to provide for all users but to give priority to more vulnerable groups such as Blue Badge holders and long-term cancer patients. There is a need to recognise that services which have a value are better respected by the user and that the costs of running a car park should be met by the user, not the healthcare budget.

4. We want government to ensure that penalty charges throughout the United Kingdom are set to ensure compliance with parking controls and minimise the subsidising of parking enforcement by local council tax payers in general.

There is an urgent need to review the penalty charges set for England and in Wales, which currently are out of step with levels set for London and which often fail to act as a deterrent and sometime encourage non-compliance with traffic management and parking rules. This is costly for council tax payers and undermines effectiveness of transport policies. There is an ongoing need to regularly review penalty charge levels throughout the UK.

5. We want to ensure that civil enforcement officers (CEOs) enjoy the same protection in law as police officers whilst undertaking their public duties and that assault of a CEO is viewed by the courts as being similar to those on police officers in terms of penalties imposed.

6. We want government to establish a regulator for the bailiff sector capable of enforcing conditions imposed by government through licensing.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the government’s licensing body and the Tribunal and Courts Enforcement Act (Bailiff Provisions) proposes that the SIA should issue licenses to bailiffs from 2012. However, we worry that there will be limited enforcement of these license conditions and we believe that a regulator should be established which is capable of enforcing license conditions and also for dealing with complaints against bailiffs.

7. We want to make sure that UK government and the EU provides funding of qualifications for the parking profession. Our vision is of a vibrant parking sector that provides excellent service to the community through the knowledge, skills and professionalism of our workforce.

To achieve our vision we rely on government funding to support the development of qualifications for the sector. In particular, to reach our key objectives we must develop both management and leadership qualifications as well as apprenticeships that are contextualised for the parking sector and meet the sector’s needs. These essential tools will enable us to continue to raise standards across the profession and create a positive public image.

8. We want to ensure that the Blue Badge Reform Strategy continues to be implemented in accordance with the published Plan.

It is important that the significant and bold plan to reform the administration and enforcement of the Blue Badge Scheme is continued, so that both stakeholders and the public are confident in its efficiency. The published Reform Strategy is designed for England but it is relevant for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too and we support the adoption of its principles by those governments also.

The Master Plan is vital to achieve the change needed to raise standard across our profession and to demonstrate how important our members take their responsibilities to meet the needs of their customers.

Coin size
Of course there are other issues arising that are of concern to different sections of our membership, and the Association is addressing these too. Recently we became aware of the Royal Mint’s intention to introduce new 5p and 10p coins, different in size and composition to those already in use. The introduction of these new coins will affect every one of our members that uses any form of cash-taking equipment such as Pay and Display, Pay on Foot, Pay at Exit or parking meters. The equipment manufacturers will benefit from the change as they will be required to make the necessary changes to all their equipment. However, the more significant effect will be felt by parking operators and local authorities who will have to fund these changes. The BPA has written to the ministers involved for clarification of the news.

The change of the coins to the cheaper materials are of no direct benefit to our members or the general public. We understand that the change is been driven by a desire from the Royal Mint and the Treasury to reduce manufacturing costs. The Royal Mint claims this change will result in a saving of £7-8 million per annum but the estimated cost to our members is in the region of £60 million.

Changing machines
The majority of our members – local authorities and parking operators – will have to incur significant cost to upgrade the machines’ electronic validators and, if change is dispensed, the change-giving drums and hoppers. If both the new and old coins remain in circulation for a period of time, the cost involved will be even higher as the machines will have to be modified to accept both types to start with and again later, when the current coins are taken out of circulation.

Some of the older/obsolete equipment may struggle with the changes and may have to be replaced. This will put a major burden on budgets at a time when money is not available to invest.

We understand that the Automatic Vending Association strongly opposes this change and have estimated the cost to their members will be around £42 million. They have also calculated the cost saving in raw material based on current prices and have established the savings to the Mint and Treasury will be not more than £1.5 million. In other words, a government department saves £1.5 million and local authorities and others are forced to spend many times that amount.

As mentioned above, we are seeking clarification on the proposed changes so that we can fully understand the implications they will have on our members.

For more information

If you would like further information about any of the aims of the BPA’s Master Plan for Parking, or a hard copy of it, please contact Emily McCunn at emily.m@britishparking.co.uk or on 01444 447317.