How digital parking permits in Reading are working one month on

At the start of November, Reading council’s digital parking permit scheme was rolled out throughout the borough.

One month on from the change, some neighbours have complained about having difficulty applying, and another neighbour complained that she has not received confirmation that her digital permit has been issued.

Emily Lowson said: “I purchased my new digital permit about a month ago. The new system is complex and confusing to navigate.

“I’ve had nothing to tell me my new permit has been activated, the only thing I know is that the money has gone from my bank account! My old permit expires next week yet I still have nothing to tell me I’m covered. Not a great improvement in my experience.”

The digital parking scheme was trialled over a six-month period in an area of lower Caversham, where some issues had arisen, leading to the council dishing out discretionary parking permits to vulnerable residents.

Claire Mitchell said: “We had the trial here where I live in lower Caversham – It’s been an absolute failure for me – a disaster.

“I had to work hard including communication via councillors- to get an exception to keep my paper permit due to family circumstances.

“I wish Reading Borough Council would spend more money on more important issues and invest in better projects.”

Stephen McLovin-Asbury, who also lives in lower Caversham, said: “I’ve spent the last four days attempting to apply for a permit with the website not allowing me to continue, so I phoned the council.

“So after spending 15 minutes on hold I got through and am now waiting for them to phone me back because I can’t apply for one over the phone.

“I can’t leave my car at home in the permit spaces because I might get a ticket and my visitor passes have expired.

“You need to have proof of ownership of the car so my mum couldn’t renew it for me as she usually does (we used to live on the same road so instead of purchasing a new one I renewed hers when she got a moped) it’s a slow website and the operator couldn’t do anything to help me.

“So far I’m not impressed that I have to wait for a phone call during my work day while stressing about getting a ticket.”

Meanwhile, David Hamilton in West Reading questioned how enforcement of the permits will function, implying it creates extra work for traffic wardens.

He said: “I live in a road that requires permits. We regularly have cars in the road that get tickets.

“Often it’s the same cars and I assume that they are millionaires or more likely the car isn’t registered to them. I am curious about how it will work. Surely the wardens will have to check every vehicle that isn’t displaying a permit?”

Salman Kayani stated that wardens are advising people to keep a record of their digital permit purchases if teething issues with permit monitoring arise.

Mr Kayani, who is a taxi driver, said: “I have asked a warden about the new digital permits and they said its best keep a receipt for record in case their system doesn’t function properly and you can appeal the ticket.” 

Meanwhile, the system has been functioning for some residents.

Elisa Samuelson-McCafferty said: “It’s working so far, and it will be good when visitors goes the same way next year.”

Temporary visitor parking permits remain in paper scratch card form for now while the council runs a second trial for digital visitor permits to smooth out issues before rolling them out borough-wide.

Responding to the issues raised, a spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: “The introduction of the residents’ digital parking scheme was successfully launched in November, and we are pleased to report that to date the vast majority of residents have found it to be an easier and quicker way to apply for and renew their permits.

“As with any new system, there have been a small number of issues which have been raised and we are actively working with our supplier to resolve these and make improvements.

“Any residents who experience difficulties renewing or applying for a residents’ digital parking permit are able to contact our Residents’ Permit team for assistance.”

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre