To receive a report from the Parking Projects & Policy Manager outlining the existing Smart Visitor Permit scheme for parking by residents’ visitors, and discussing options for altering the system
The Committee received a report from the Parking Projects & Policy Manager which considered options for altering the system of parking permits for use by residents’ visitors. There were currently 13,015 Smart Visitor Permits (SVPs) issued and the report described three options to improve the current system.
Noting the disadvantages of scratch cards detailed in the report, members of the public disagreed and explained that they had spoken to Camden Council, who had stated that they had a system to post replacement scratch cards without delay. The member of the public had also been informed by Camden that the scratch cards were not susceptible to fraud as indicated in the report. Officers explained that the identified delay referred to the time it took for new scratch cards to arrive in the post. The Committee was also informed that officers were in regular contact with colleagues from across London, and the overwhelming trend was for councils to move away from using scratch cards due to issues with fraud.
Members of the public also identified that some residents could be excluded if they were to be required to use internet-based methods of paying for parking. Officers reported that they received very few complaints regarding access to the SVP system, with more users complaining about the costs and the extent of the restrictions in place.
The Committee also noted the comment from the public that the reduced price for disabled users was still too expensive and put vulnerable residents at risk as carers could not visit as often. Officers explained that the half price for disabled users was initially trialled in 2007 and feedback was monitored. At the time there were some concerns that the price was prohibitive, but there had been no complaints about cost from disabled residents. The Council used resident feedback to make adjustments to the scheme, such as the number of days that the reduced fee was applicable, but to date it had not received any. Members asked how visitors to disabled residents were charged prior to the SVP system, and officers explained that they were charged the same rate as other users via on-street ticket machines.
Some members of the public argued that paying for parking and having restrictions on visitor parking were one of the costs of living and driving in London, and that the current SVP system worked well. However the cost of the permits was recognised as being too high by members of the public present.
A member of the public suggested that the system should be modified to give Hammersmith & Fulham residents preferential access by allowing them to use their permits across the borough, regardless of parking zone. Officers explained that the Council was considering this alongside several other possibilities, and that all SVP users were to be surveyed to understand residents’ experiences and preferences. The survey would include an open comments box and all responses would be captured and codified.
Members commented that the Council’s complaints process seemed to be limited and that policies should not be based on whether complaints had been received, as many were not being accurately captured. The survey of SVP users should therefore capture accurate satisfaction levels and elicit responses from vulnerable user groups. Officers sought guidance on whether the survey should be better advertised and whether it should be open to all residents rather than just car owners. Members of the public and the committee agreed that as many responses as possible should be sought.
That the report be noted.