Thousands unable to renew parking permits, says councillor

Thousands of people have been unable to renew their parking permits, according to a councillor.

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth flagged up their problems after hearing about people affected by delays when trying to use Brighton and Hove City Council’s new system.

He first raised the issue at a meeting of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee in June.

He was told that parking permit renewals were being moved to the council’s My Account system to benefit residents.

The aim was an online one-stop shop for council tax, recycling, schools and parking permits.

The new system was trialled with people on the permit waiting list and then with those in areas with “light touch” parking schemes.

As the new system was introduced, two IT issues were identified and fixed, councillors were told.

The council said at the time: “Parking staff are currently working hard to help customers resolve these issues.

“The grace period for permits was extended when it was clear that not all permit applications had been resolved and the small number of penalty charge notices issued before this have been cancelled.”

But there are still problems, with people in neighbourhood social media groups across Brighton and Hove sharing their complaints about the system.

In the past two weeks, people have posted grumbles on Facebook groups for the Seven Dials, Fiveways, Kemp Town and across Brighton.

They have complained about paying for permits but not receiving them – just a confirmation email followed by parking tickets.

The same council committee met today (Tuesday 21 September) and Councillor Nemeth said that he could not count how many people had contacted him about parking permits problems.

He also had a particular concern for those who could not access the website.

Councillor Robert Nemeth

Councillor Nemeth said: “What assistance has the council been giving to the thousands of vulnerable residents who have found it impossible to renew their parking permits in recent months and since I raised the subject at the June meeting of this committee?”

Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the committee, said that the council had trebled the number of staff working on the accessibility line to help people access the online system.

Parking staff were also completing applications on behalf of those who were unable to do so themselves.

Residents who cannot access the website can post their applications to the council or use a dropbox outside Hove Town Hall, councillors were told.

The council’s assistant director for transport Mark Prior said that he was working on the issue every day with the head of parking services because there were several problems with IT – and the post office.

He said: “There are issues with the council platform that matches the database that ensures permits are allocated fairly and effectively across the city.

“There are many issues – and the team has drawn in additional resources to target this fairly and effectively across the city.

“This is a key issue and we are managing this daily at the very highest level.”

He said that both the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw and Nick Hibberd, the executive director for the economy, environment and culture, were monitoring the situation as it was a “troubling issue”.

  1. Hove Guy Reply

    Another day, another chaotic mess. What is it with this lousy bunch of clowns? Can they never get anything right? It beggars belief that a council can be so utterly incomptetent. A child could probably have worked out a better system. Also, is it still possible to buy the permits at Hove Town Hall, or have they messed that up as well? I hope voters will remember all the blunders when election time comes around.

  2. Mike Beasley Reply

    Another day, another failure.BHCC needs to be in special measures. It really is as simple as that.

  3. Serena Evans Reply

    Sack Councillor Heley. She is responsible for parking permits, cycle lanes and all transport and environment issues. She is not fit for purpose!

  4. Rez Reply

    Inept staff and inept councillors in charge of a council that struggles to carry out its basic duties. Less grandstanding would be a good start, with at least a modicum of humility and some sign that they recognize their duty to serve the public. Woeful. It really is. A brief visit to Eastbourne, Lewes, Shoreham or Worthing will show you just how different it could be with competent politicians supported by competent and conscientious staff. Those in charge in Brighton and Hove should hang their heads in shame over this and a dozen other issues. Sadly, it’s hard to believe we’ll see any change any time soon.

  5. nick Reply

    So a problem in June and still a problem. This is despite being a key priority. The quote from the staff member says it all….

    “This is a key issue and we are managing this daily at the very highest level.”

    He said that both the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw and Nick Hibberd, the executive director for the economy, environment and culture, were monitoring the situation as it was a “troubling issue”.

    OK. So you’ve had at least 4 months and, despite daily “management” at the “highest level” it still hasn’t been fixed

    There’s clear and compelling evidence that people need to go. Especially the higher management as even backup plans haven’t been put in place. This isn’t an issue of money – the parking team makes a huge profit. It is an issue of competence, pure and simple. And if people aren’t fired due to this then B&H senior management will surely be removed at some point as the evidence is becoming overwhelming of structural incompetence. This isn’t the councillors (although there are issues there) or party politics. It is the issue of council staff being able to do standard tasks. And if they can’t they are not retrained or removed. And senior management can’t fix it seems – despite months of “management” at the “highest level”! Don’t forget these “managers” are well paid – three to 6 times the average pay level. So we are paying for skills and delivery – but we are not getting it….

  6. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Many months ago my disabled bus pass was due for renewal, and this always happens automatically, but it didn’t this time. It duly expired. I emailed the council and, to be fair, a guy in blue badge/disabled passes responded very quickly and was very nice and apologetic, but said it was a ‘system error’. There is no such thing as a system error – this is always human error in setting up or dealing with systems, and I suspect that the parking permit problem is exactly the same. The new bus pass did materialise very quickly – apparently, production of the actual physical passes has been outsourced to some outfit in Whitstable – why is that?

    I am certainly no lover of this Green Council or the Momentum Labour one before it, but this basic, non-rocket science admin is a dysfunction of council officers/employees and the common denominator in all of the dysfunction in recent years is the CEO, the totally invisible Geoff Raw (who presided over the last major bin fiasco). Someone needs to get a grip!

    Just saying!

  7. Disgruntled Resident Reply

    The new system wasn’t put in for citizens. One of the reasons was because the council decided there was systemic fraud going on, with no evidence to back it up. My ongoing understanding is fraud around parking permits is still very low, always has been. They also haven’t delivered any benefits for citizens, for example doing away with paper permits and just having electronic.

    Very well said about Parking and profit they have millions of ring fenced money for parking, traffic calming etc related activity. Citizens are having to wait at times north of an hour on the phone lines to get matters sorted. Why haven’t they brought further resource in to reduce that to the ten minute mark? The customer promise says

    “aim to keep average waiting times under 10 minutes. At busier times, we will aim to let you know how long you may have to wait”

    That’s not happened for months!

    They really also need to start actively listening and reopen the parking shop in Hove Town Hall so at least citizens can go in person if they need urgent help. It’s not like you can go park somewhere else in Brighton.

  8. alan t Reply

    My Account won’t work for me because I have a business. Parking is not an option on my screen, just tax & Covid. Bleedin’ useless! Sent in a postal renewal weeks ago but I guess they are all working from home catching up with Countdown & Antiques Road Trip.

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