Planning for the future

Spotlight on Parking 2023: An expert discussion of solutions to parking problems

01 December 2023
The Spotlight on Parking
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s chief adjudicator Caroline Hamilton chaired Spotlight on Parking
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s chief adjudicator Caroline Hamilton chaired Spotlight on Parking


The Spotlight on Parking series has been run by Alpha Parking since 2014 to provide a space in which professionals can discuss their experiences of devising and implementing policies and new ways of working. The Spotlight on Parking 2023 event was held at the Royal Society in London on 10 October. The theme of this year’s seminar was ‘Parking: Planning for the Future’.

The presentations covered a wide range of issues including how parking policies can support sustainable travel, tackling Blue Badge fraud, implementing moving traffic regulations and the implementation of the National Parking Platform (NPP).

Zoe Hall, strategic parking manager at Cornwall Council, is passionate about promoting positive parking. She discussed how parking policy can be used to support sustainable travel. Cornwall is a largely rural county with a high degree of car dependency when it comes to work, school run and shopping trips. This year round reliance on the car is compounded by the influx of tourist cars in the summer, resulting in congestion on narrow roads and pressure on some car parks.

The county council has started using parking tariffs as a behaviour change tool to encourage the use of buses, rail and park & ride. Previously complex parking tariffs have been simplified to create just three price bands. The council has adopted a progressive pricing model, with the most expensive band being applied to car parks in locations with good public transport links. Reduced parking tariffs for electric vehicles supports decarbonisation, as do incentives for car-sharing and ridesharing, and free or low-cost parking for bicycles.

The positive use of technology to implement traffic and parking policies was a theme picked up in a presentation on deterring and detecting Blue Badge fraud by Tim Gunn, compliance manager of the London Borough of Haringey. Blue Badge theft and misuse was a major concern for the borough’s residents, so Gunn’s team developed a more robust enforcement policy supported by two innovations: a virtual Resident Blue Badge Holder Permit is open to all Blue Badge holders in the borough; and a Blue Badge Checker feature on civil enforcement officers’ handheld devices to check the status and authenticity of a badge while on patrol.

One of the sector’s most innovative thinkers, Robert Shoebridge, group manager at Derby City Council, discussed moving traffic enforcement. Derby was the first English local authority outside London to implement Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act.

Shoebridge said there was decision to focus on bringing camera enforcement in streets around schools. He stressed the importance of preparation and planning in order to make sure signs, systems and procedures all worked before the enforcement of the School Safe Havens began. This ground work ensured the scheme withstood challenges at appeal. The fact the Traffic Penalty Tribunal found Derby ‘substantially compliant’ when adjudicating was evidence that the scheme was working, said Shoebridge.

Sarah Randall, director of propositions and local authority at Agena Group, spoke about the National Parking Platform. Currently local authorities tend to contract with one cashless parking provider and the various apps do not talk to one another, so drivers are forced to use multiple apps when travelling. The NPP seeks to fix this by creating a hub between parking providers and apps, all participating apps can offer parking in all participating locations. As a result, users can use their preferred app everywhere; and local authorities get access to all participating providers for less effort.

Randall suggested that the NPP also has the potential to change the way in which local authorities access pay-by-app services.  There will no longer be a need to procure the services of a single company to provide a monopoly contract. Instead, authorities join the NPP as a system – instantly connecting to everything else.  The way this changes the market puts the value of the NPP’s service below the procurement threshold.

The NPP also runs on an ongoing basis, with local authorities free to leave when they wish, explained Randall. This means local authorities can join up, and access a full range of services with minimal effort.

Alpha Parking is a consultancy working with private and public parking operations, providing a one stop shop service for on-street and off-street needs.

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