After a challenging period of change, councillors will next week be told of the significant progress that’s been made to improve parking services for residents in Brighton & Hove.
Members of the Policy & Resources committee will be given the update when they meet on Thursday 7 July.
The report says that waiting times for those contacting the Parking Service team by phone fell to under four minutes in May 2022, down from a peak of around 38 minutes in the first quarter of 2021/22.
The number of ‘abandoned’ calls (where someone hangs up before the call has been answered), was also down to just 15% - a significant decrease from 51% between April – June 2021.
Challenging period of change to improve services
The Parking Service has undertaken huge change in the last two years.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, staff had to adapt quickly to a new way of working to meet the challenges of lockdown. A new online solution for residents to purchase and renew parking permits was introduced but increased the pressure and workload on staff significantly.
At the same time, the system was being developed further to prepare for the introduction of surcharges (increased prices for households with more than one vehicle) and discounts for those on low incomes.
A major release of the IT system in June 2021, meant that a minority of the 36,000 parking customers experienced problems with the new system – this led to the increase in call waiting times and complaints.
Significant progress and lessons learned
Huge strides have been made by the Parking Service which has led to a much-improved experience for residents.
- Nearly all customers are now using the new online system to renew their parking permits
- We have recruited more staff to answer phones and support those applying for permits online
- We’re also receiving in-person enquiries indirectly through the Customer Service officers at Hove Town Hall with a call back service within 24 hours.
- A new version of the online parking system has given officers the tools needed to fix problems more quickly
Lessons have been learned from the challenges faced over the last two years.
We recognise the need for more resources and testing of new systems and to slow the pace of change when testing tells us we need to. This in turn has meant the role of front line officers has changed with more IT technical expertise required.
We also need to communicate better with residents about any changes taking place.
More improvements coming soon
We will soon be completing releasing ‘version 2’ of the new system. This will allow us to introduce Low Income Discounts on the base price of a resident parking permit – part of our response to the cost-of-living crisis.
Eleven other permit types will also be moved onto the new system while more testing will be done before releasing permit surcharges.
Hard working paying off
Councillor Steve Davis, Co-Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “I’d like to thank officers for the hard work that’s been done to improve the parking service for residents in Brighton & Hove.
“This has been an extremely challenging and difficult time, but we’re now seeing the benefits of this much needed upgrade to our systems.
“Call waiting times and complaints are down and it’s now easier for residents to purchase and renew their parking permits. I know there is still work to be done and more change is on the horizon, but I’m confident we are in a strong position to move forward.”