From Amy Tisi of the Windsor Liberal Democrats
As a regular user of the Victoria Street carpark, I started becoming increasingly frustrated with the outdated pay and display machines that were often out of order. This left me running up and down stairs to find a working machine; not ideal if you are a disabled driver, or like me, have small children.
I logged my concerns through the usual council reporting system but then started tweeting the council as it was quicker, and the breakdowns became an almost weekly occurrence. Towards the end of 2018, I heard, via the Windsor Town Forum minutes, that new machines were being installed. The deadline came and went but the frustrations continued until finally, the new machines were unveiled in January to much self-congratulation by the Conservatives on social media. That should have been the end of the story….
Unfortunately, the parking woes have continued as the high-tech machines, which are reported to have cost £750,000, just haven’t lived up to expectations. They are slow to use and complex, causing long queues to form. There have also been ongoing problems with using Advantage cards to obtain residents’ discounts. Many cards were not being recognised and temporary paper barcodes have to be obtained from the main library. After widely celebrating their investment in parking, the Conservatives were then forced to issue advice to residents on how to claim back over-payment of fees. I was forced to pay £16 instead of £2.50 to park for an afternoon one weekend.
It has become a bit of a joke among those who know me that I am now obsessed with parking machines, but joking aside, I am dismayed with the whole fiasco and the impact it has on both local people trying to go to work and play in our town centres, as well as the overall image of the town to visitors. It may be ‘silly season’ at the council, when budgets are used up before April, but we must hold them to account over this spending. I have several questions for the Conservatives about the procurement of these machines:
- What process was followed to select these parking machines over a pay-on-foot system which might encourage visitors to stay longer in our town centres?
- Who signed off on these machines? Have they been successfully implemented in other towns?
- Why was no trial carried out on a few machines to test the Advantage Card system?
- Have these machines been shown to reduce Advantage card fraud? Unlike the previous cards, I was able to use my child’s card to obtain a discount and also watched a resident use their card to give another person in the queue a discount.
- Does the council consider offering to refund over-payment by sending bank details via email, an appropriate or secure way to reimburse residents?
I’m keen to hear your experiences of the new parking machines, good and bad so please do contact me on: