Progressive parking strategy is key to area’s regeneration
Securing substantial inward investment for Grimsby and Cleethorpes is at the heart of North East Lincolnshire’s Strategic Plan and the 10 year strategic partnership between Cofely and North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC). A progressive approach to parking management has been taken and is one of a number of initiatives supporting the authority’s far-reaching plans for economic regeneration.
“Like all local authorities, we’re having to find ways of doing things faster, better and more efficiently than ever before and this is why the partnership with Cofely is advantageous to our success,” explains Angela Blake, Director of Economy and Growth at NELC.
“But, that’s just part of the challenge here in North East Lincolnshire. We’re also totally committed to delivering versatile and future-proof services that provide positive support and encouragement for local residents and local businesses as economic rejuvenation is realised. Parking Services is one such area. Here, we’ve made considerable savings in operational costs, resisted the pressure to increase parking charges and taken steps to maximise the quality of service we provide for residents and visitors to the area.”
“Working with an experienced and trusted partner the Council has achieved its goals – cost savings on the one hand and service improvements to support schemes like the proposed £20 million retail and leisure expansion in Grimsby town centre on the other.
“Our work with Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions (ICES) has transformed our operational efficiencies, helped us to adopt new working practices and is enabling us to embrace more advanced solutions using real-time communications. As a result, the quality of service we’re providing to citizens is better than ever and the parking operation is able to make a direct contribution to the council’s savings target.”
All 15 of the Council’s Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) now have new uniforms with CCTV monitoring cameras and use Samsung Galaxy smartphones equipped with the ICES’ dedicated enforcement software, Rialto. The ICES 3sixty back office processing system is used for collating, managing and processing all enforcement activities, with all data downloaded from the smartphones in real-time. Significantly, special messages can also be conveyed in real-time to CEOs while they are on patrol.
Such functionality has proved to be particularly effective in helping the parking team to respond to issues arising during major public events in the area. It has also supported the Council’s moves towards more integrated working practices, as it is much easier for CEOs to advise relevant security and highways maintenance colleagues of defects or issues with signage and Council property that they identify while on patrol. In addition, the process of identifying and recording contraventions is also much simpler and quicker than before and there is less chance of data entry errors and confrontation during patrols.
“It’s now much easier for us to issue special one-off permits at short notice to residents and businesses as well as those colleagues hosting potential inward investors and other VIPs,” explains Stacey Chaplin, Parking Strategy Manager, Cofely, “And, it’s so much easier for CEOs to respond to queries from members of the public as they can now use their smartphones to access the internet or contact the back office team for any additional information.”
“We’re absolutely delighted to have matched cost savings with significant service improvements. We’re now taking steps to build on such progress and move forward with the next phase of our plans for all 26 of our Pay and Display car parks so we can be even more responsive to local needs and aspirations. The focus of our parking strategy remains clear – to provide the best possible experience for all members of the local community and the huge number of visitors to the area during the holiday season.”
The partnership between Cofely and North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) began in July 2010 and saw various services outsourced to Cofely. Over the past five years Cofely has delivered a number of improvements on behalf of the Council. As Angela Blake emphasises, however, the parking strategy is not something that has been developed in isolation.
“Our progressive approach reflects our broader economic regeneration objectives. It also recognises that the effective introduction of new technologies is absolutely essential if we are to deliver a sustainable and agile solution for parking management and civil enforcement.”
Stacey Chaplin, Cofely’s Parking Strategy Manager with ICES’ Doug Woodhouse.