A few weeks ago, Alpha Parking joined forces with the London Borough of Hounslow to host a seminar called Spotlight on Parking.
One of the speakers was Dr Scott Le Vine, from the centre for transport studies at Imperial College London. His main point was that we would need to rethink how we managed our transport system in the future because of the changing behaviours of the population.
Scott’ s point was that more and more young people living in the big urban areas were not learning to drive. This indicated two things: firstly, that they were using other forms of transport; and secondly, that they might never learn to drive. The implications, as he pointed out, could be wide-reaching. Transport planners would need to consider meeting the needs of a population that relied on public transport and car-ownership might begin to decline.
Good parking practice
At a more prosaic level, Patrick Troy, the chief executive of the British Parking Association and Dr Kevin Golding-Williams from Living Streets, spoke passionately about the importance of good parking management on the high street. Patrick was particularly scathing about the government’s fixation on CCTV surveillance and its use in enforcement, arguing that there were wider issues to consider, such as a national ban on pavement parking and making the penalty charge notices across the UK more proportionate (currently it is cheaper to get a penalty charge than it is to buy a ticket in some cities).
Kevin also spoke about pavement parking and used some visuals to good effect to show how a car parked on a pavement could prove a dangerous obstruction for wheelchair users, parents with buggies or the visually-impaired.
Wanted: Well-trained staff
From my point of view, the seminar just re-emphasised how important it is that people working within the transport sector are well-trained. If the streets are being enforced by officers who know what they are looking for and how to enforce within the legislation, then motorists will know that they are being dealt with fairly.
Higher up the career ladder, if parking managers and street planners are able to appreciate the bigger picture and plan parking strategies effectively, then the whole of the population will benefit from a well-thought out transport plan.
The last speaker at Spotlight on Parking was Caroline Hamilton, the chief parking adjudicator for PATAS in London. She highlighted the need for civil enforcement officers to ensure that ticketing is done properly – a single mistake on a penalty charge notice can cost the local authority a lot of money and time in dealing with the subsequent appeal process.
What so impressed me about the messages that were emerging over the course of the seminar was how people from very diverse backgrounds and coming from very different sectors of the transport world are actually singing from a very similar song-sheet. The key considerations among thought leaders seem to be: keep traffic moving; make roads safe for all users; and aim for increasing levels of sustainability.