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Notes from Big Ben …

British Form New Parking Association

for Individuals

I am not making this up (1):
I recently was given the translation of a new parking law in a country that shall remain nameless. One of the offenses for which you could get a parking ticket was to park a car without license plates. Think about it.
I am not making this up (2):
The UK government is encouraging people to use cars less and buses, trains and metro more. How do they (the government, that is) do this for Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city? By proposing to withdraw the money they pay local rail operators to provide free parking at stations and so introduce charges for parking at these stations. The government call it joined up thinking!
The annual Parkex show here in England seemed to go pretty well by all accounts. It ran for three days alongside the biennial Traffex show in Birmingham, and all three days were pretty crowded, with most booth occupiers pretty happy with the show.
One thing that always puzzles me at shows like this is the people who spend thousands of dollars to be at the show and then sit at the back of their booths reading a paper! News flash: If you are not interested in the visitors, why should they be interested in your products?
The British Parking Association had two major launches at the show.
The first was the official launch of the Institute of Parking Professionals. The BPA has been around for about 40 years and has always been an organization of organizations. However, as the industry has grown, there has been a growing call for a body that represents the people who work in our business, rather than just the companies that employ them.
This ambition has now been achieved with the launch of the Institute of Parking Professionals on April 17. Membership is open to anyone working in the parking industry, with four grades of membership, depending on the individual’s age and achievements.
At launch, we had 120 founder members, and given the level of interest shown by people at the show, I wouldn’t be surprised if this figure has already doubled and may even pass 1,000 by the end of the year. Membership is open to anyone working in the parking industry, and if anyone out there wants to know more, you can find details on the BPA website (www.britishparking.co.uk).
At the same time, we have also started a program, called the Sector Skills Strategy, to develop formal recognized qualifications for the parking industry. It will start with enhanced qualifications for people involved in ticket writing, with the ambition that eventually the qualification will become a license to practice, so that only qualified people will be able to do this job. The goal is to develop a whole range of suitable training courses to raise standards in the industry.
The BPA’s second launch at Parkex was a new code of practice for parking enforcement on private land. Many landowners seek to protect their car parks from misuse by issuing parking tickets for people who abuse the facility
We have had a long-term problem here where organizations of questionable legitimacy have been writing tickets in these situations, and then instead of enforcing the charge through the courts, they have relied on threats and intimidation to collect quite unreasonable charges.
To trace the vehicle, the bad guys have to access driver records at the DVLA (our national DMV) and then turn up on the doorstep with a baseball bat. The government doesn’t want to close down legitimate access to the data but does want to block the bad guys. The result is a new set of rules where the ticket writers have to obey our code and do things properly or they are shut out of the data.
One of the “new” ideas that seems to be gaining ground here is the temporary parking deck. We have had fast-erect steel car parks for some time, including those that can be erected without foundations to allow an extra level of parking over a surface lot. But this year, we have had at least three new products launched. Each manufacturer offers to provide a fast-erect deck over an existing car park with no ground work and with the whole thing capable of being taken down and re-used elsewhere. There seems to be a market for these products, to allow shopping malls to cover the Christmas peak or for longer-term use where a car park structure is being rebuilt or repaired.
And finally …
NCP is the UK’s biggest car park company. The business was started by two ex-soldiers just after the Second World War. They set up a business parking cars on the many bomb sites in London for a few pennies a day. Sixty years on and several changes of ownership and the company is now in many ways leading the trend in the use of modern technology to manage its parking operations. It recently opened a $10m state-of-the-art national control room in London to oversee the operation of more than 300 car parks across the country. This was reported in an article in the trade press, which showed photographs of various features of the control center. Oh lackaday, far from showing that the intended control has been achieved, one photo unfortunately shows that every car park listed on the screen has gone off-line. Oops.

Peter Guest is PT’s Correspondent for Europe and the Middle East. He can be reached at peterguestparking@hotmail.co.uk.

Article Abstract from June, 2007




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