Enabling technology to support an increasingly mobile society and help the High Street. This is the message being sent by British Parking Association (BPA), Local Government Association (LGA) and London Councils, who are calling for local authorities across the UK to be enabled to use camera technology to support High Streets and underpin a safer economic recovery from COVID-19. The organisations have sent a briefing document to the UK government and the Devolved Administrations, which reads:
Response to COVID-19
The parking sector is transforming rapidly, with smarter and more effective management tools to deliver a better experience for motorists, greater availability of parking spaces, and a mobile society. The impact of COVID-19 has further shifted behavioural change and exposed the urgency to better manage journeys and destinations in a smarter and more holistic way. The UK government recognises this in its ‘Gear Change’ programme too. The use of cameras and other remote monitoring technologies must now be enabled to their fullest extent (through legislation) to allow local authorities to innovate and meet the needs of their communities.
The use of cameras and other remote monitoring technologies allows:
Delivering for the consumer and the High Street
As destinations begin to re-open and businesses and shops start to welcome back their customers to help kick start our economy, places where social distancing measures are observed and can be easily maintained will once again grow and thrive, whilst town centres may fall further behind with a more cumbersome ‘hands tied’ experience that cannot compete. The evidence is clear:
Many argue that much of this can be done now, which may be so in some cases, but local authorities are reluctant to invest in ANPR and other technologies without unfettered support of parliament and government, and in the knowledge that the ultimate sanction of enforcement – serving penalty charges through the post using evidence gathered by ANPR – can be used if necessary.
The way forward
The BPA, LGA and London Councils welcome the government’s announcement that it is committed to commencing the remaining elements of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. We note that it also intends to increase combined authorities’ powers over their key route networks, similar to those that apply already in London and enable integrated highways and transport authority status at Combined Authority level for these roads (Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking, July 2020). Moving traffic contraventions can in the main only be managed using cameras and remote monitoring technologies, like ANPR.
It seems incongruous to allow local authorities to manage moving traffic but continue to prevent them from managing stationary traffic in the same way.
The opportunity to use camera technology with associated guidance, which can ensure that any enforcement action is fair and proportionate, will add to the local authorities’ toolkit to better manage increasingly complex and challenging public spaces and places. Finally, local authorities are publicly accountable and their use of camera technology is not only required by this sector but demanded by the public and local politicians alike.
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