“It has been an outstanding year for The International Parking Community (IPC) with membership continuing to grow under our new and more expansive identity, new partnerships forged with key organisations and a host of new initiatives underway.” Speaking to the large audience at The IPC's 2016 Annual Conference, Will Hurley, Director of the Trade Association, said he was particularly excited that public sector organisations would now have access to the progressive benefits that have proved to be so effective for private sector parking service providers.
“While there will always be distinct requirements and regulations, a convergence of parking standards across the public and private sectors will foster greater consistency and help improve service provision for motorists,” he said.
“We've taken a similar proactive stance in many other areas over the past 12 months. As well as providing feedback to the DCLG's consultation paper and incorporating the Surveillance Camera Commissioner's new Code of Practice into our own Code, we continue to work closely with the DVLA to ensure ongoing improvements in parking provision and practices. We've also worked in partnership with the Citizens Advice Service to ensure all guidance for motorists is always accurate and up to date. And, we've signed an agreement with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association to help streamline their practices and reduce the red tape.”
Mr Hurley referred to the growing stature of The IPC within and beyond the parking industry, as demonstrated by the association's accreditation under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) regulations and subsequent praise from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) during the annual audit. Parking Australia has also confirmed its adoption of The IPC's service model and supporting software. And, just a few weeks after its launch, six councils have already joined The IPC's dedicated new membership scheme for local authorities. The number of campus and city centre universities signing up to the IPC's new educational membership scheme also continues to grow.
“We've made a lot of progress in a short time,” continued Mr Hurley. “But we're constantly listening to members, lobbying and looking to see where further improvements can be made to improve the parking experience of motorists and ensure high service standards are applied right across the parking industry. That's why we'll soon be confirming two revisions to our Code of Practice - one will place a cap on any additional charges assigned to an unpaid Parking Charge Notice and the other will introduce a requirement to confirm the address of a motorist prior to pursuing a County Court Judgment for any debt that exceeds 12 months. And we are also launching a Welsh Language Standard that will promote the use of Welsh as a first language and take full account of legislative guidance and the growing footprint of the private parking sector in Wales.”
Among the many speakers at the Conference, Bryn Holloway, the lead adjudicator of the Independent Appeals Service said that the service was dealing with over 1,200 appeals every month. He stressed the importance of a fair and straightforward system that focuses on legalities in order to maximise consistency and to strike the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of motorists and car park operators alike.
Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner applauded the initiatives that the IPC were taking and confirmed that the association had provided significant support for the new Code of Practice for surveillance which has particular relevance within the private parking sector due to the growing use of ANPR cameras. He emphasised ‘the passport to compliance' that will help private operators to adopt the principles of best practice and to help safeguard public confidence and the integrity of the parking industry.
Chris Wade, Director of the People and Places Partnership, highlighted the importance of understanding the customer journey and customer experience when considering the provision, use, location and pricing of parking facilities in and around town centres. Acknowledging the uncertainties of future demand, he said the key performance measures were quality, cost, convenience and quantity and that new technologies had a vital role to play to ensure flexibility in parking provision and to create opportunities for incentivising the use of peripheral parking facilities.
Helen Dolphin MBE, who has been responsible for setting up a progressive accreditation scheme for car parks, formally unveiled the initiative at this year's IPC Annual Conference. She demonstrated the value and effectiveness of such a dedicated approach to help motorists find the most appropriate car park to meet their needs.
People's Parking accreditation demonstrates that a car park has good signage and pedestrian routes and is well lit, clean and actively managed. The scheme highlights car parks with facilities for disabled people, parents with children, electric vehicles and camper vans as well as car parks offering secure cycle parking. It also provides a simple means for identifying those car parks located in the best places for airports, transport interchanges and shopping and where pre-booking and pay-by-phone services are available.
The Conference was held at Hallmark's Mickleover Court Hotel near Derby and was followed by a well-attended dinner and dance, with a special fund-raising auction for the event's two nominated charities. No less than £4,000 was raised for Becca's Wish to Walk to support the special healthcare needs of 7-year-old Becca Carey who suffers from cerebral palsy and who requires significant aftercare (not covered by the NHS) following privately-funded surgery in America which will hopefully enable her to walk and lead a more normal and dignified life. In addition, over £3,500 was raised for the North West Air Ambulance charity.
To find out more about the work of The IPC and to discuss becoming a member of the association, visit www.theipc.info.