Historic towns ring in the changes for parking permits
Motorists who are visiting or live and work in two popular Dorset towns famed for their magnificent Priory and Minster churches are now benefitting from a comprehensive and cutting edge permit management solution. The new ICES PermitSmarti system introduced by Christchurch and East Dorset Councils has transformed efficiencies in the allocation and verification of a complex range of parking permits in Christchurch and the towns of East Dorset, and has eliminated the issues associated with paper-based permits.
“As we are in such a popular area for all year round tourism, there’s a huge demand for parking spaces in and around both principal towns,” says Peter Clements, Car Parks Team Leader for Christchurch and East Dorset Councils.
“The effective use and allocation of many different types of parking permit is absolutely vital for businesses and residents as well as regular visitors from surrounding catchment areas and tourists staying in the area. But, the administrative and enforcement demands of such a wide range of permits as well as the specific criteria for different car parks were proving to be quite a challenge – especially with both Councils having previously used widely differing approaches.
“The introduction of PermitSmarti has changed all of that. We now have one system that’s user-friendly, reliable and very responsive and the use of virtual permits has overcome the limitations, frustrations and costs of our earlier paper-based system. And, significantly, the efficiency improvements have been matched with outstanding customer feedback.”
The new PermitSmarti system from Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions (ICES) benefits from a seamless link to the authorities’ 3sixty back office processing and parking management system and is easily configured to meet specific operational requirements.
Featuring full self-serve functionality, all permit applications are easily completed by customers on the Dorset for You website and benefit from the convenience of 24/7 accessibility and a range of online payment options. Once the permit has been confirmed, the back office records are updated instantaneously so that patrolling Civil Enforcement Officers can be sure the data on their DTX30 handheld terminals is fully up to date at all times.
Steps are now also being taken to capitalise on online evidence-based information to simplify the processing and payment of all permit-related Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
The intuitive PermitSmarti portal on the Council website is compatible for use on all mobile devices and covers all customer requirements from registration and initial applications, through to renewals and requesting a suspension as well as all payment functions. Almost everything in PermitSmarti can be customised according to the requirements of a local authority, including permit types, price schemes, validity periods and required documentation as well as frequently asked questions and help texts.
In the case of Christchurch and East Dorset, the system provides options for residents, non-residents and businesses with permits available from full or long stay annual permits through to Street Trader Permits and specific permits for Leisure Centre’s and even the East Dorset Bowls Club.
“We have worked closely with the support team at ICES to ensure the system has evolved to meet all eventualities and ever-changing regulatory requirements,” continues Peter Clements.
“Such a close partnership has not only helped ICES to refine and develop the functionality of PermitSmarti, but has also proved to be particularly effective in meeting our specific permit needs – in particular, a reliable system for over a thousand blue badge holders. We’re absolutely delighted with the results. The versatility and quick search functionality of the system has been a real eye-opener and we’re already looking to capitalise further on the success of the self serve on-line resources and access to real-time data.”
With all back office staff and the authorities’ 9 Civil Enforcement Officers having completed a full training programme, The PermitSmarti solution for Christchurch and East Dorset Councils went live during the first week of April (2016). Very well attended Open Days to provide a hands-on introduction to the new virtual permit solution were held for members of the public at the Councils’ offices in Furzehill on the outskirts of Wimborne and in Christchurch. At each event, assistance was provided to those individuals without access to computers or the internet and dedicated computer stations have remained in place at both offices.
A self-service point at the Council’s offices in Christchurch