Scottish birthplace says ‘Yes’ to Smartphone enforcement
With a global reputation for fine whisky production and 3,000 miles of spectacular coastline scenery to attract tourists, Argyll and Bute covers the second largest area of any Scottish local authority and is said to be the birthplace of the Scotland we all know today. But, just like more densely populated cities, traffic flow and easy access to the major commercial and tourism centres in the region has been difficult to maintain – until now that is!
Earlier this year Argyll and Bute Council adopted decriminalised enforcement following acceptance of the authority’s proposed enforcement model by the Scottish Office. The move saw the Council follow the lead of other Scottish authorities by appointing Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions (ICES) to provide a reliable IT solution for effective enforcement processing, and recruiting and training a team of six Enforcement Wardens. The ICES 3sixty system went live in May and all wardens – including 7 Environment Wardens who also undertake enforcement duties – are equipped with Samsung Galaxy Smartphones running ICES’ dedicated Rialto enforcement software.
“This is our first enforcement operation in Scotland to go live with the Galaxy smartphone,” says ICES Business Development Manager, Doug Woodhouse. “And, the feedback from the wardens has been extremely positive. The smartphones are very versatile and easy to use, and all data for Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), evidence and notes are downloaded easily over 3G and/or WiFi onto the 3sixty system from any remote location – which is particularly important given the geographical distances between the various enforcement areas. One of the Amenity Wardens even has her home WiFi router configured to download PCNs and photos as she walks in the front door – which means she no longer needs to return to a traditional Parking Attendant Base at the end of her shift.”
According to Peter McLuckie, Parking Supervisor at Argyll and Bute Council, the new enforcement measures have been very effective in helping to keep traffic moving along the main thoroughfares in the controlled parking zone of one of the region’s most popular towns and the gateway to Mull and the Western Isles – the port town of Oban.
“With so little in the way of enforcement in the past, it has taken some time to overcome the former normality of non-compliance,” he says. “But the new enforcement programme is helping to address the problems caused by motorists not complying with parking regulations. And we’re delighted with the very positive response from bus operators, delivery drivers and other regular visitors to the area who say that access to the town centre is very much better than was previously the case. What’s more, there’s now a much higher turnover of parking spaces so it’s easier for shoppers and other people visiting the town centres.”
“We opted for the ICES 3sixty system following discussions with other Scottish authorities which have recently moved to decriminalised enforcement,” continues Peter. “The system is hosted by ICES but all processing is undertaken by the back office team at the Council’s principal offices in Lochgilphead. It has proved to be a very easy to use system and, as motorists can view all evidence on-line, we have seen a significant reduction in appeals.”
For the first six weeks of the new enforcement arrangements, warning notices were issued to all motorists failing to comply with the parking regulations and, as well as media announcements and public briefings, explanatory leaflets were distributed in all of the main towns. This also proved to be a useful period for warden training and to ensure familiarisation with the new enforcement technologies. Today, the enforcement measures cover on- and off-street parking in Oban and Pay and Display car parks in Campbeltown, Dunoon, Lochgilphead, Helensburgh as well as on the islands of Mull and Bute.
“We’ve also introduced a 10 minute observation period before a PCN can be printed so I think we’re being very fair to motorists,” adds Peter. “Indeed, even where difficulties have arisen from temporary Traffic Regulation Orders introduced for the major waterfront redevelopment in Helensburgh, we have endeavoured to be as helpful and supportive as we can while also trying to maximise accessibility for all residents and visitors to the town.”
Peter and his colleagues are now working with ICES to prepare for Phase 2 of the enforcement programme which will see the introduction of a more consistent and effective permit system for residents and for any businesses and individuals requiring temporary bay suspensions.