At Bristow & Sutor, we believe that business within the civil enforcement industry should continue to operate as much as possible – using the same sensitivity that all recovery cases should be handled with. Our first leading the way blog suggested that with a sensitive and pragmatic attitude applied, there is no reason why debt recovery responses cannot continue to succeed at this time. As the weeks have progressed and now that the high street is gradually beginning to re-open, this is more important than ever.
Each Local Authority is facing different challenges and unique considerations, from coastal havens dealing with an influx of visitors to beaches again to central hub’s seeing a surge in shoppers. What is uniformly true, however, is that evolving from a skeleton service back to a fully-fledged return is a process made easier if engagement and support remains available.
Habits, expectations and behaviours can exist for years but also change in a very short space of time if enforcement is absent. Local Authorities are entering a period of re-education to ensure the public understand that the rules around parking infringements, for example, have not changed and still apply. The sooner ‘normal’ service resumes from all authorities, the quicker this message will resonate.
Below are just a few examples of Local Authorities that recognise and support the benefits of re-engaging services in their own unique and individual circumstances.
Paul Hutton, Service Manager for Parking Services, Dorset Council, says, “On-street enforcement never actually stopped but it was a very light-touch during the initial period. About 3 weeks ago, parking charges for car parks were reinstated. As a Parking Services Team we had to react quickly to get coastal car parks closed once decisions were made to try and deter visitors from coming to Dorset, and we were also involved in working closely with the Military to provide at least four car parks for their use as COVID testing centres, a situation that still continues.
With the relaxing of lockdown came the sunshine and the influx of visitors from out of town to local beach and beauty spots. At one point I had to deploy around a quarter of my whole team on duty just to visit Durdle Door because of the sheer number of visitors who had been parking anywhere they could find a spot (not in the designated car parks) causing mayhem in the narrow roads in the village of West Lulworth.”
Ash Snookes, Parking Manager, Worcester City Council, says, “We could see the essential requirement to operate the service, but to ensure distancing measures were in place promptly. By working with partners and colleagues we have made this possible with a return to full service from 1st June. We see a positive year of rebuilding services and supporting local businesses and residents across the city”.
Ian Martinez, Parking Office Team Leader, West Berkshire Council, says, “We started parking charges again at the start of June. Warning notices were issued for the first 2 weeks and normal enforcement commenced from Monday 15th June. As soon as Bristow & Sutor are able to continue enforcement then we are happy for that to start again too. Our approach will be the same across the district”.
Rob Shoebridge, Civil Enforcement and Parking Services Team Manager, Derby City Council, says, “In order to assist with ‘re-opening of the High Street’, Derby City Council have taken several steps to promote both on and off-street parking facilities through both price changes and parking enforcement. Reduction of prices, variable and flat rate pricing that considers queues customers can experience in shops, has helped provide solutions to suit all driver’s needs. This, in addition to reintroducing our Civil Enforcement patrols to ensure the emergency changes to road layouts and parking bays in the City centre are managed appropriately, has meant the first week of the High Street being re-opened has gone very smoothly”.
At Bristow & Sutor, we understand that the speed at which Local Authorities can and will resume enforcement will vary, but also believe the faster this happens everywhere the better it will be for the public and for authorities themselves. That is why we have kept engaged as much as possible with our clients and remain prepared to support as soon as we are needed. Many of our customers have already begun seeing success from re-engagement and we encourage other authorities to lead by example too.
Bristow & Sutor remains committed as ever to our service approach of Cool, Calm and Collected.