Parking service concentrates on customers
Brighton & Hove’s parking service served the public in various ways in 2013.
The city’s 74 civil enforcement officers (CEOs) did a lot more than patrol the streets and issue penalty charge notices. They assisted vulnerable people who had become lost back to care homes, reunited a lost dog with grateful owners, helped an elderly man after he had mislaid his car and home keys, and rescued an injured cat that had been run over.
One CEO stepped in after he saw a woman in a wheelchair having difficulty getting home with her shopping. She explained that she had tried to get a taxi from St James’ Street to Freshfield Road but was unable to find one to take her, so the CEO pushed her home.
Another was approached by a group that had been on the beach. They had lost one of their friends last seen going for a swim, so the CEO called the police and coastguard and stayed with the group while the search was going on. He also took it upon himself to speak to some fishermen who provided crucial information in helping to locate the friend safe and sound.
In a national survey carried out by parking contractor NSL, 95% of CEOs said they frequently answered non-parking related questions. More than half (55%) also said that they felt their presence on-street was mostly welcomed, with some members of the public reassured by their uniformed presence.
Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport at Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Our civil enforcement officers play a crucial part in managing available parking space and making sure vehicles are not causing problems for other people. It’s clear, too that they do a lot more, often being the ‘eyes and ears’ on the street and helping people in difficulty.”
In 2013 Brighton & Hove’s CEOs wore new uniforms, which are now less formal than before. The number of penalty charge notices they issued reduced – in 2012/13 the figure of 114,000 penalty charge notices was the second lowest since the council took over parking enforcement in 2001.
Other initiatives to help residents, businesses and visitors were the introduction of pay by phone, new residents’ parking schemes and the completion of a £4.2 million investment in council-owned car parks at Regency Square, Trafalgar Street, Carlton Hill and Oxford Court.
People were able to pay for their parking by phone from September and over the first three months just over 7% of people parking in the fully implemented PayByPhone zones used the new service.
In April, on street parking charges were frozen – a proposal that is also being put forward for the 2014/15 budget.
Councillor Davey added: “There is no doubt that Brighton & Hove has a high demand for parking. We manage over 30,000 parking spaces, and although we have a low vehicle ownership relative to other places, our population has been steadily growing which means more cars, plus the city attracts around eight million visitors a year.
“Managing available space, listening to what people want and providing people who wish to park with viable transport choices, are key to the service.”
The new match day parking schemes in Moulsecoomb and Coldean introduced in July are free to residents. For the first time the council set up temporary processing in the locality at Coldean Library and Moulsecoomb Housing Office to help 2,500 people apply for and receive their permits.
Waiting times for residents’ parking schemes in central areas, where there is highest demand, almost halved over the past three years from 1,260 to 646.
Cycle parking also received a major boost in July when the city’s planning committee approved plans for a new cycling hub at Brighton railway station. The council is supporting the new building with transport funding and it will provide shower and changing facilities, a bike shop, café, cycle repair outlet and bike hire, as well as storage for 500 bikes, making it the most comprehensive facility for cyclists in the city and one of the best in the region.
The council also trialled secure motorcycle parking bays across the city.
In February, parking staff became part of a new, improved customer service centre in Hove Town Hall with a face to face service for permits, Blue Badges and penalty charge notice enquiries.
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