Councillor Bayford, Leader of Council introduced the item for debate and led the discussion by initially responding to questions that were forwarded to him ahead of the meeting. The Leader acknowledged the fact that the decision and its related report did not provide enough content for Members to understand fully some of the issues relating to the decision. The Leader and the portfolio holder were given additional information through a briefing by officers.
Councillor Messenger spoke under Council Procedure 20.1.
In seeking clarity on the decision made by the Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Coastal Development, the Panel asked the following questions:
· Was the licence for the software being used for this pilot project specific to the project or was it owned by the Council so that it did not make an additional cost to Council later on?
· How many people took part in the survey? Which car parks were involved in the survey? What types of questions were being asked?
· Was there payment made for the investigative work done by Canterbury City Council?
· Will the facility for auto car registration number recordings be accessed by other agencies like the Police, if requested?
· What was the back up in instances where a credit card payment was declined?
· What was the aim of the project?
· Did the corporate management team consider this project a priority?
Responding to Member questions Councillor Bayford and Hannah Thorpe, Head of Communications and Digital said the following:
· The Council had been working with Canterbury City Council on this project and had used their procurement process to get best price for the software. The software could used by other car parks owned by the Council;
· A customer survey was carried out in July 2018. This was a two weeks survey and ninety three respondents contributed to the results of the survey;
· The questions focused on how the car parks were used and what users would like and random times were used (which included morning, lunch time and evenings) and survey was mainly conducted between Mondays and Fridays. This was in order to capture more of the local rather than visitors needs ;
· The six car parks that took part in the survey were Vere Road, Albion Street, Trinity Square, Dreamland, St Peters Park Road and Crofts Placecar parks
· The Digital Team conducted the survey;
· The six car parks were selected after a benefit effort matrix was used. This looked at the access to the car park, configuration and size of the park, current income of the park and cost involved to implement the pilot project;
· Some of the feedback included that the residents wanted to pay the exact amount that they would have parked in the car parks;
· By working with Canterbury City Council, TDC had learnt some lessons and would avoid some of the pitfalls experienced by CCC;
· TDC was looking to a ticketless system. This should help with addressing the likely problem of queuing to get into or out of the car park;
· The aim of the project was to give the residents the experience of using a simple digital payment experience and reduce enforcement;
· This would also give a personalized experience to the public;
· The pilot is expected to be a year (although not yet confirmed);
· The public would now have to pay for exact amount of time parked and remove the need for individuals to rush back to the park to avoid affine for running out of parking time;
· Digital payment would give the Council real time information
· Pre and post pilot project revenue will be compared. The number of fines for pre and post pilot would also be compared;
· Royal Harbour Car Park was discounted from the pilot because the site was not currently owned by the Council;
· Digital facility gives flexibility and cost effective management of the car parks;
· Since parking was always a perennial problem, changing the way the service was delivered to the public might improve the experience of using car parks owned by the Council and would improve the way these parks were managed;
· The Police could request any information in the pursuit of criminal activities. There were specific protocols for requesting specific information across agencies;
· There would be a grace period to make the payment in instances where an individual’s payment attempt was initially declined.
The Panel decided not to take any further action, thanked the Leader and noted the report.