Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste to report
The Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste reported on the Residents’ Parking Permits Working Group’s findings (comprising Councillors Aves and Prowse).
Audit checks had allowed an improved understanding of customer interaction with the service and potential abuse. Independent auditors had also found no significant concerns over current processes. Compliance was of at least 84% with confirmed cases of abuse being below 4%. This was a significant improvement over the last review which had been conducted between March and May 2017.
There had been a commitment from the Working Group to undertake further reviews across the City which had resulted in the cancellation of a number of permits.
Audit checks had been carried out in Newton Abbot with a compliance rate of 94%.
Barnstaple and Totnes were the next largest zones in the County and would be audited in due course.
The residents parking permit service had also been subject to a review by Devon Audit Partnership which had found no significant concerns with processes with appropriate checks in place.
The Working Group’s recommendations had been (i) Review abuse outside of Exeter; and (ii) Review Terms and Conditions.
As an outcome of the Working Group meetings and review of findings the following actions had been undertaken:
(a) a review of the legal issues around permit abuse has been undertaken, with reference to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 “Mishandling of Parking Documents and Related Offences” added to the application pages; and the web page and the printed terms and conditions supplied to permit holders now stated;
“Any person making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a residential zone parking permit shall be guilty of an offence (Section 115 (2) Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984)”.
(b) As part of a wider review of technology utilised by Civil Parking Enforcement Officers there had been a roll-out of sim-enabled handheld units. The inclusion of a mobile phone sim card to the units meant that live data could be communicated, including information relating to ‘live’ or ‘cancelled’ parking permits, meaning that abuse was easier to detect and action could be taken against any person displaying a cancelled permit. For permit holders awaiting permits to arrive by post, the use of ‘live’ data would avoid the unnecessary issue of a parking ticket for not displaying a valid permit, and subsequent need to challenge that ticket.
(c) The responding to local intelligence from residents on drivers / vehicles they believed were abusing the system was vital to maintaining the integrity of the scheme.
Intelligence from members of the public and enforcement officers about vehicles displaying multiple permits or concerns about allocation abuse were always investigated and acted upon where appropriate.
A single web portal would be set up to report abuse to manage workload for officers and Members and this could be accessed online by residents or completed on their behalf by the customer service centre.
(N.B intelligence was welcomed, but due to data governance issues, the outcome of any report relating to an individual or their vehicle, could not be reported back to the complainant)
(d) A review of parking demand across Exeter would be conducted to understand current capacity.
(e) Patterns of complaint around business permits were discussed. The County had maintained the ‘status quo’ regarding business eligible addresses. Any property that had been identified by the City Council as eligible for permits, remained eligible on the Council’s current database.
With concerns about business permits being used for commuting and not service needs it was appropriate to undertake a health check of the business address database and permit holders by undertaking a full audit of eligibility. At this stage it had been agreed to monitor applications and gather updated information on the nature of each business applying and reliance on support vehicles close by to deliver their service.
It was MOVED by Councillor Aves, SECONDED by Councillor Brennan
(a) that the recommendations and actions arising from the Residents’ Parking Permits Working Group be endorsed;
(b) that a Residents Parking Policy Working Group be established comprising the Chair, Councillors Asvachin, Aves and Whitton to review current policy and make recommendations to this Committee and subsequently to the Cabinet.