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District car-parks to become camera operated
FINES and hunting for loose change to pay to park in the Wycombe District could be a thing of the past as car-parks are set to become camera operated.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition will be installed in every Wycombe District Council operated car-park bar four, the authority has announced.
The system – which reads vehicle number plates as they enter and exit – will mean motorists can pay their parking fees on their return to their vehicles, on the internet when they get home or set up an automated debit account.
WDC says the new system, which will cost £680,000 to install, will save a minimum of £200,000 a year and will also increase revenue, as ANPR will prevent motorists from passing tickets or ‘taking a chance’ by not buying one.
Robin Evans, WDC’s Parking Services Manager, said: “A lot of people pop in town and only need an hour or two, or don’t know how long they will be and, invariably, at the end of that period they either decide they want to stay longer or are forced to rush back to their cars.
“This allows you to pay when you come back, so there’s no more rushing around or risk of incurring a penalty charge, in fact there’s no reason to get a penalty charge, you can pay by cash, card, mobile phone or on the internet when you get home – a bit like the London Congestion Charge.
“Parking fines are unwanted thing for the customers, we don’t want it either. A lot of people think it’s good for us as all the council wants to do is issue penalties but we don’t want that.
“We lose money by processing the charges so, contrary to public belief, we don’t want to hand them out as we don’t actually make money or break even.”
Parking charges are to remain unchanged and ANPR will also provide new business opportunities as firms will be able to advertise on the machines and offer discounts and promotions to shoppers.
A two-month trial period starts in the Easton Street and Railway Place car-parks in High Wycombe from April and, if successful, will be rolled out town-by-town - starting in Princes Risborough - by the end of October.
The successful bidder following a tender process was APT Controls – Veri-Park. If the trial is successful, the full contract will begin on June 24.
Jim Rayner, MD of Parking Techniques Ltd which advised the council, said the move will reduce the amount of enforcement officers working in car-parks, which will help to give town centres a friendlier atmosphere.
He said: “ANPR means there’s less people on the ground, they don’t need to be doing assertive enforcement, as it’s done by the software, so it takes away what is seen by many as an aggressive part of the facility.
“Part of the council’s wish list is to improve the atmosphere around the town centre. This system is more robust, more flexible, has greater benefits and officers on the streets can be more assistive rather than enforcing.”
He added pay-on-foot systems, like the one in operation in Easton Street, is more expensive to install and operate than ANPR.
Just four of the council’s car-parks will be immune from ANPR and will remain pay and display for logistical reasons.
They are; Kingsmead and Wycombe Sports Centre in Wycombe, and Riley Road and Dean Street in Marlow.
But these car-parks will have the new machines installed, meaning motorists will be able to pay by cash, card and mobile phone.
Blue badge holders will need to register their vehicles on the ANPR system.