Header image

Parking payment technology No limits Louise Parfitt finds out the challenges and successes of Cheshire West and Chesters move to the National Parking Platform hen I heard about the National Parking Platform (NPP), it was like seeing a ray of sunlight coming through on a cloudy day. Ken Prior was parking manager at Cheshire West and Chester Council when it became one of the first adopters of the NPP earlier this year.* Before that, Prior and his team had been exploring options to see how the council could have more than one mobile payment provider in order to offer choice for residents and visitors. The idea of an exclusive contract with just one mobile phone payment provider didnt make sense to me, particularly because our area attracts visitors from all over the country, he says. The councils parking machines accept both card and cash payments, so customers had some payment choice, but on hearing about the NPP, the team were keen to get involved because they appreciated the benefits of a multi-vendor platform. We have all felt the pain of having to download yet another app, or struggled to do so because signal is weak, says Prior. With the NPP, motorists have a choice of five payment providers: they simply W The NPP could be an umbrella over the whole of local authority parking. We need to get that cohesion of us all working together choose the one they wish to use or already have. Of course, they can also continue to pay by card or with cash. Teething issues The NPP which is funded by the Department for Transport, owned by local authorities, and backed up by the Alliance for Parking Data Standards was trialled by Manchester City Council before it was opened up to others. Cheshire West and Chester Council was among the first to join. Mike Lester, parking project manager, and Danielle Finlay, parking services supervisor, say the preparation was a bit of an arduous process, but they believe this was because some things were still being ironed out. Because we were one of the first local authorities taking it up, legally there was a lot to sort out, Lester explains. The team at Parking Matters, who are one of the architects of the NPP, took what was in place for Manchester to apply here, but our legal team raised some additional queries and it had to go through our Data Protection Impact Assessment. Now that several local authorities have gone through the process, Prior, Lester and Finlay believe it will be much quicker for the next tranche, because these issues have been ironed out. I can only see the process getting better and easier as more councils join, Prior says. There were also a few delays in getting the back-office system ready. Part of the issue was ensuring the handheld devices used by the civil enforcement officers were able to check mobile payments, which meant changing to a 24 PN May 2023 pp24-25 NPP.indd 24 25/04/2023 11:22