Nottingham City Council
It is an old adage – there is no such thing as a free lunch – and sadly it is true, especially in this day and age….
A classic example is Nottingham City Councils current ‘free parking’ deal – on the face of it a great offer (and I have used it). Basically on street parking has been free on Wednesday’s after 4pm and all day Sunday since the 18th of November, Christmas Day and Boxing Day will also be free all day.
But, there is a tiny catch which I only caught up with last week. I always pay for my on street parking in Nottingham via the Ringo App on my iPhone – it is very good as you can get a text reminder 10 minutes before your parking expires (and a proper receipt which is good for work). However last Wednesday I discovered that the free parking is only available if you ‘pay’ via the Ringo App – if you only have cash or card you can’t register for the free space.
Now call me cynical but this does look to me to be a sneaky way to get more people paying via their smart phones and thereby reducing the cost to the City Council in collect cash or paying credit card fees?
So on one hand it’s ‘thanks Nottingham City Council’, but on the other as I say – there is no such thing as a free lunch (especially if you don’t have a smart phone)
I am a big fan of our Nottingham bus service, it provides a great service that I use (very) infrequently. But when I do I know that I can find the next bus due at our local stop (or any other in the city) just by looking at the NCT app on my iphone – it is a great app and works really well – until today….
I was checking twitter this morning and discovered a trail between my mate @johnlyle and Nottingham City Transport. He was berating them for the loss of the NCT app which they had ‘killed’ in favour of their nice new website. Now I accept that the website provides all the information the app did (and more). But, and this is my issue – it isn’t as handy to access and requires a greater level of ‘techy’ knowledge to set up a short cut onto the screen of your iphone – not ideal for all users.
Apparently NCT had around 20% of users who were unhappy with the app – this they consider to be a lot. Personally I would have thought that 80% satisfaction was good in their industry?
What is likely to cause them more ‘fun’ is the fact that the loss of service via their app came as a surprise to them. They were going to publicise the removal off the app during October and then end it fully in November according to the twitter exchange I had with them. Something tells me their 20% rate is about to get a whole lot worse!
How about bringing it back instead NCT?
So, as of today the new ‘improved’ parking scheme is in force in Nottingham – will it help, or is it too little too late? Retailers and restaurant owners were up in arms when the council decided to start charging for evening on street parking – and quite rightly so in my view – it was a typically badly misjudged thing to do in such a depressed economy by our local council.
The decision to now remove the time limit on the on street parking is an interesting approach – parking will be £1 for 30 minutes up to 2 hours depending on which zone you are in. But, more importantly, the evening charge will be £1 for the entire night – a much better approach and one that hopefully will help the evening traders in the centre of town.
The removal of time limited parking may have a knock on effect though – up to now it has always been possible to get a space on a meter in town for a quick visit – they may now be taken all day – which would be a retrograde step.
Time will tell…….
Nottingham is famous for a number of things – most of them great – Robin Hood, Boots, Nottingham Forest, it’s Universities, you get the idea. Unfortunately it is also known as one of the most expensive UK cities to park in. This is not a good record to hold and something that our City Council have not really dealt with in a good way in recent years. In fact the recent extension of paid parking into the evenings was a definite ‘shot in the foot’ which has been universally decried by the local businesses.
On the positive side (yes there is one) I believe that the meter parking has worked well, this on street parking is ideal for short-term visits into the town for shopping or business. I can invariably find a space and then pay for it via the Ringo app on my iPhone (recommended – give it a try).
No, the major issue has always been the cost of longer term parking in the car parks – it is just too expensive and is driving people away (pardon the pun). So the latest announcement from the City Council has left me stunned! The official statement is as follows;
“The new pricing structure sees charges based around a simple £1 fee to give drivers the choice of where they park based on how much they want to pay. The £1 charge will cover 30 minutes parking in the heart of the city during the 8am to 6pm peak time hours. Off-peak the £1 charge will cover 2 hours in the centre of the city – Zone One – whilst outside this zone drivers will be able to park all day for a flat £1 fee.
Peak time parking is from 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday with off-peak parking every evening from 6pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. On-street parking is free between 8pm and 8am.”
So the proposal is to change the charging and time limits on meters – as far as I can find no change is planned for the car park charges – they will remain stupidly high. No, the plan is to allow people to park as long as they wish on meters in £1 thirty minute time slots. That is actually more expensive than it is currently!
So if I have got this right the car parks will still be empty due to the high cost, but now it won’t be possible to get a short-term space because people can park on them all day if they wish (but at a similar cost to the car parks)! The only positive bit is the change on evening parking – although there is still a charge.
To sum up then, parking is still far too expensive in the city, there is still an evening charge for on street (unlike Leicester and many other cities) – Stunning – just remind me why people voted this council back in?
Nottingham is now subject to the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) – a misguided way of raising money in the short-term for our City Council – once it has managed to drive business outside the city boundaries I assume they will come up with an equally ‘good’ idea to fill their coffers.
As part of the WPL the City Council obviously need to police it, this is managed by way of a car that drives around the city and its estates taking pictures of all the parking spaces and the cars that are using them This is probably as efficient a way of policing it as can be arrived at in the current world – or it would be if it was done using one member of staff. However, in the same way that Traffic Wardens only appear to hunt in pairs nowadays (for protection?) it also appears that the WPL car requires both a driver and a passenger to make it work!
When I saw the car operating last week it was ‘two up’, surely this is unnecessary – or is it just jobs for the boys? One thing is for sure – it is going to become about as popular as the traffic wardens, so perhaps they are just preparing themselves for the worst?
Parking is a bit of a thorny issue in Nottingham at the moment, not only do we have some of the most expensive regional parking charges for visitors to our city but we also have the workplace parking levy which has just been brought in. This later charge is going to prove interesting – I am already speaking to occupies in non Nottingham City locations who are asking me if their offices are worth more or at least more desirable to tenants because they are not caught by the tax.
It will be interesting to see if a two tier market appears to develop – I have a feeling it might!
The latest parking ‘issue’ to hit the press is from the student population – now I am not ‘anti student’ we have a large student community that brings a huge amount to the city. But their concerns at being charged for residents permits in the areas they live does rather take the biscuit! I may well be getting old but do students really need to have a car? I know when I was at Nottingham Trent all those years ago most couldn’t afford one!
I accept if you are a mature student you may well have a car, but the costs of parking are all part of the bigger picture of car ownership aren’t they? And as a student do you really need a car, especially in a city such as ours which has such a good public transport provision?
So yes, I have sympathy for the companies and staff being hit by the workplace parking levy – it is badly misjudged by our council and may come back to bite them. But student parking? Come on, get the bus!