Oct 12 2011

Harrow’s Planned Parking Changes?

Looks like a number of changes are in the pipeline in respect of parking charges in and around the Borough, if the proposals from Harrow Council get Cabinet approval shortly.

You can read the full report here (be warned, it makes for dull reading), but in summary, the recommendations include:

  • The cost for resident parking permits is not revised to be emissions based, though it is recommended that incentives remain for using greener vehicles and the incentives are extended to all types of permits including business permits.
  • The cost for paying for on-street parking is revised so that charge rates are based on the extent of shopping characteristics, available car parks, existing public transport links and existing leisure facilities and that there are only four different zone cost rates across the borough. This will enable centres with few shops/businesses to be set at a lower cost rate than areas such as Harrow Town Centre.
  • The cost for car parks is revised so that charge rates are based on the extent of shopping characteristics, available car parks, existing public transport links and existing leisure facilities and that there are only four different zone cost rates across the borough. The physical condition of the car parks and their perceived safety will also be taken into account.
  • A single cost for visitor parking permits is introduced. This will considerably reduce the overall administrative costs for these permits.

The consultation results showed public support for introducing paying by phone for parking using credit/debit cards. Where similar systems have been introduced in other authorities it has led to reduced crime associated with paying for parking, reduce malicious damage to car parking meters to obtain cash and also reduce the costs associated with regularly emptying parking meters. There are options for introducing such schemes with no additional charges to the local authority as the cost can be covered by a small additional charge added to each transaction to cover the overall cost of providing the phone payment service.

It is common in schemes introduced by other authorities for running costs of cashless parking to be covered by a small charge of less than 20p per transaction which is added to each transaction for paying this way. This charge will be made clear to all users of this service.

One of the more crazy ideas was to introduce peak period charging – for example, increasing the cost to park when shopping areas are likely to be busy. This didn’t get any public support, so has been dropped.

However, what sneaked in at item number 2.22 in the proposals was this:

“The Council will develop proposals to introduce charging in main car parks that are currently free of charge to be consistent across the portfolio of Council run car parks.” [Our emphasis].

That’s right – any free car parks are likely to disappear.

On the idea of charging an additional 20p per transaction to pay for parking via credit/debit card – this could effectively double the cost of very short-term parking, although, of course, cash will still be accepted, and (probably) won’t attract the 20p premium. Harrow points out that other boroughs charge the 20p surcharge, so seems to think it can jump on the same bandwagon.

The Council expects to increase it’s income from parking by £75,000 per year.

There is much more in the proposals covering Controlled Parking Zones, as well as a summary of the responses to the consultation held earlier this year. It seems 64% of respondees said they”…would find it helpful to be able to pay for parking using a credit or debit card or a pre-pay card?” However, no mention of a 20p (in some cases, then, a doubling!) surcharge. Cynical? Us? Never.



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