Monday 7 September 2015

Model Hospital Car Park shows how it can be done

The Prankster previously blogged about Bristol Eye Hospital and the Marlborough Hill ANPR car park in April 2014. The car park is managed by Total Parking Solutions and uses ANPR technology to monitor the car park, combined with warden patrols.

At the time no tickets had been issued for overstays. The Prankster therefore decided to issue a new FoI request to get an update on the situation. The result is, that since the car park opened in April 2011 the number of tickets issued for overstays or failure to pay!

That's right. Nil. Nada. Nothing. No tickets.

All in all, a total of 36 tickets have been issued, all of these by wardens, and for reasons such as:

  • No contractors or staff parking permitted
  • Cars parked in disabled bays must display a valid disabled badge
  • Vehicles must park within a marked bay and not park causing obstruction or blocking the entrance or exit
  • No parking on yellow lines or hatched areas

That makes an average of 0.7 tickets issued every month. It seems like the residents of Bristol are a considerate bunch, happy to obey parking rules and not flout the landowners wishes.

Compare this with the renegade denizens of Halton. They are apparently happy to ignore parking restrictions and generally do what they want. The Liverpool Echo reported that over 4,000 of these shady characters transgressed in just 3 months in two hospital sites, generating over £400,000 in revenue for the parking company, Highview Parking.

But is this really the situation? Why are the inhabitants of Halton such bad parkers? The answer lies in the way the car parks are managed. In Bristol, Total Parking Solutions charge a management fee for operating the car park. There is therefore no incentive to issue parking charges. Instead, the landowner, operator and motorist can all work together to make car parking a happy and harmonious experience.

The pay machines all know the details of vehicles which are parked, because they are informed by the ANPR system. It is impossible to enter an incorrect registration and the machine tells you exactly how much you need to pay. Signage is apparently more than adequate, and the low number of tickets issued can be seen as a testament to that.

In Halton, Highview parking offered their services to the hospital for free. That means they must gouge the motorist as hard as possible in order to make their money. This means there is every incentive to create a system which is difficult to use, easy to fall foul of, and which will generate lots of loot for the parking pirates.

It has already been accepted that the signage there is woefully inadequate and that the ANPR cameras are badly aligned, charging passing cars who do not even go to the hospital. However, the hospital is on record as saying:
We have found that the main reasons for people receiving parking charge notices has been not entering their full registration, or not paying for the time used.
These two reasons are of course completely avoidable if the right technology is used, as the Marlborough Hill car park shows. In Halton, you have to guess how long you stayed; no entry tickets are issued, so if you cannot remember when you entered, you can get it wrong. You must also enter your car registration correctly, something that vulnerable members of society often find difficult. Of course, the system knows if you entered the wrong registration, because you will get a charge notice in the post a few days later. However, it is to Highview's advantage not to tell you at the time.

It seems that number of charges generated in a car park does not depend on whether motorists are trying to get out of paying, but on how crooked and devious the car park operator is, and how complicated they make the operation of the car park.

The Prankster recommends that these 'guess-on-exit' systems be banned from hospital car parks and replaced with systems which are fair to both operator and motorist.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster.


  1. I think you mean HALTON not Hatton?

  2. That explains why my google search of Hatton turned up nothing.

  3. Halton NHS Trust is currently running a £15m deficit and according to the CQC is suffering from a "crisis of leadership". No wonder they grabbed a contract from Highview that offered a roughly 40/60 split of the errrmm "income" with both hands without reading the small print or considering nicities of how reasonable the new system might be.

    Highview are currently making selective refunds to those who paid up after recieving "misleading" letters from their debt collectors following the intervention of Halton TS. I wonder if the cash strapped trust is chipping in?

  4. Easy innit?
    No-one gets ripped off. The hospital (or other landowners if that model was used industry wide) has the usually fictitious parking problem solved. No one gets filthy rich and good faith beams down on us all.
    You'd think we were talking of a different planet.

  5. Worth mentioning that the new (ok, not exactly new, I was born there, but most of the old hospital has been knocked down and rebuilt recently) Southmead Hospital in Bristol has the same technology in it's car parks also.

  6. All well and good. But what about those of us who can't use the stupid low contrast keyboards. Why can't we just pay and display. Registration entry systems should be banned .