New Parking Permit Charges to Fund Scheme Improvements
PROPOSED increases to parking permit charges in Reading will fund further improvements for residents, including better enforcement of residential parking zones and the possible future introduction of a new ‘virtual’ visitor permit scheme.With demand for limited parking spaces greater than ever in Reading, permit schemes continue to be popular. They allow residents to park near to their homes whilst providing a regular turnover of spaces for visitors to the town. There are over 7,500 first permit holders in Reading and 19 residents parking zones have been introduced since 1976, with a backlog of demand for new schemes. Following a review of the current parking permit scheme, it is being recommended that the first permit charge increases from £30 to £40, second permits (of which there are 1,800) from £120 to £150 and third permits (of which there are currently only 33) from £240 to £300. The first two visitor parking books would remain free, with the cost of subsequent books increasing from £22 to £25. All income received is ring-fenced for reinvestment in transport and highways schemes, which means it cannot be used to pay for other Council services or projects. Part of the expected additional income generated would be used to pay for better enforcement of permit parking areas, with more regular foot patrols by wardens, as requested by the local residents living in the permit zones. The Council would also begin a review of a new virtual visitor permit system for Reading. Virtual permits offer residents more flexibility by allowing people to instantly book visitor parking via an online account, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also allow residents to use their allocation of visitor parking by the hour - rather than the half day slots in which they are currently offered - offering much better value for money. Technology would also be considered which allows residents to check for themselves if a car is legally parked in a residents parking zone by verifying a registration number against an approved list. Where a car is illegally parked, the information could then be electronically passed to enforcement officers. The recommendations will be considered by a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee on Monday July 15th. https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=138&MId=3087. If agreed, current permit holders will be sent a letter notifying them of the changes, which would come into effect from October 1st.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:“Parking permit schemes remain hugely popular with residents in Reading, without which they would struggle to park near their homes. The Council is regularly lobbied by local residents for the introduction of new permit zones and new schemes are being introduced in east Reading and Lower Caversham later this year. “The increases proposed would allow the Council to build on improvements already delivered in the form of the new online system. These would include more foot patrols in residential parking zones - as requested by local residents themselves - and the possible introduction of a virtual visitor permit scheme for Reading, offering residents much better value for money and flexibility. “Earlier this year Reading Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency. Improving poor air quality in Reading also remains one of our priorities. In the near future the Council intends to carry out a future review of the permit charging structure which would be based on vehicle emissions. Further updates will be provided as this important piece of work develops.” The Council introduced a charge for permits for the first time in 2017. Improvements already introduced as a result of those changes have included:
- A new online, self-service application process which instantly shares permit information with wardens through their handsets
- Upgraded handsets for wardens leading to improved efficiency and more time patrolling residential streets
- A new online visitor permit application process, providing further flexibility for renewing visitor permits.