An ESC Cabinet Meeting was held in the Deben Conference Room, East Suffolk House, Melton on Tuesday Feb 2020 at 6:30 pm to consider, amongst other things, the decision brief Parking Services:Parking Management and CPE ES/0285. This meeting was attended by Wickham Market Parish Council Chairman, 2 Parish Counsellors and 2 members of the public from Wickham Market. Only one other member of the public was present. We were not allowed to speak. The Parish Council and a few villagers and businesses had written to cabinet members to express their concern about the effect it would have on Wickham Market. Norman Brooks, the Councillor responsible for Transport assured me, before the meeting, that our concerns had been noted. Councillor Brooks introduced the brief and then Louis Boudville, ESC Parking Manager, gave a presentation outlining the changes that will be made.
The first part of the brief concerned Civil Parking Enforcement whereby the responsibility for on street parking offences will be transferred from the police to ESC. In general, it was thought that this move was a good idea as the police did not have the resources to carry out this task and many people were abusing the current rules. The enforcement would only work for places where there were parking restrictions such as a single or double yellow line, but would not apply to areas where it was designated as unlimited free parking.
There will be a new team of personnel to manage the new system and there will be 20 Civil
Enforcement Officers (CEO) and these will be outsourced to Norse. A major part of this new policy is the use of “RingGo”, the mobile parking app. This is the most used parking app in the country. It can be accessed through a smartphone and it was stated that 90% of people have a smartphone. The RingGo system enables you to plan your route to a car park and pay without cash all on your mobile phone. Normally there is a small charge for using RingGo, but this will be paid by ESC. ESC hoped that training on the RingGo app could be given by local venues, such as coffee shops. CEO's will scan the number plates of the cars in a car park and their devices will tell them if a car has paid or not. Legally, ESC has to allow a 10 minute grace period on all parking times. There is to be a free 30-minute period in all the Wickham Market car parks and originally this could only be accessed through RingGo. As a concession to those that do not possess smartphones the free 30 minutes can now be accessed from the machines which will be in each car park. However, these machines will be different to the ones that are currently installed, and everybody will have to enter their car number plate into the machine. The machine will then immediately update the information that the CEOs have on their device so that they will always be able to check parking. The parking charges will only operate from 8:00am to 6:00pm but will operate on Sundays as well. It was stated that Blue Badge holders would only get the normal allotted time and not double as is currently the case. One of the big issues for Wickham Market is that the cost of the monthly season ticket parking will increase from £10 to £65. It was very disheartening to note that no cabinet member raised this issue even though all were aware of it.
The Chairman, Councillor Steve Gallant, did say that there is a possibility to introduce exceptions if needed. It was interesting to note that district councillors who are not members of the cabinet but were present at the meeting were able to give their views before the decision before the brief was voted upon. The Chairman summed up before the vote stating that the ESC Vison is controlling parking with enforcement providing economic/environmental benefits with a wider ambition (noting climate change) with Ring-Go app providing a better experience! The brief was approved unanimously.
The brief will now be turned into a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) without change, this will then be circulated for consultation and 21 days is it allowed for this process. The Wickham Market contingent spoke to Lewis Boudville after the event and noted that petitions would not be accepted as a method of objecting to this policy. Responses on the website, or possibly written comments,would be the only way in which this TRO could be amended before it is promulgated.
When the TRO is issued for consultation it is vital that as many people as possible register their concerns. The Parish Council will ensure that this is widely publicised.
Wickham Market Parish Council
5 Feb 20