Motorists can apply for parking permits at the touch of a button thanks to a new paperless system implemented by Canterbury City Council.
The scheme is part of a digital transformation at the Conservative-run authority, as officials seek new ways to use technology to make life easier for residents.
It means residents can apply for and manage on and off-street permits, as well as visitor permits, from anywhere with an internet connection – avoiding the need to go into the council’s offices. Permits are valid immediately, removing the wait for a paper version to arrive in the post.
Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, who has been spearheading the scheme in his role as chairman of the regeneration and property committee, said the initiative brought many benefits.
He said: “The new paperless permit system allows residents to share a permit between two vehicles, although only one can be parked at any one time, and manage it online.
“It introduces a monthly payment option, which will make the permits more affordable for people on low or fixed incomes who cannot afford a costly up-front fee.
“And it also allows the council’s enforcement officers to scan rows of cars with a device that instantly recognises whether they have a permit, saving time and meaning they can concentrate on areas where we know problem parking is an issue.”
As part of the move to use new technologies, the authority has also introduced automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in some of its car parks, allowing drivers to pay for only the time they are parked. After a successful pilot, the cameras are due to be rolled out to other car parks next year, together with the capability to feed back live data on available spaces that can be used to update signs around the city and even sent to satellite navigation devices.
Cllr Fitter-Harding added: “Embracing technologies such as digital permits and ANPR cameras is vital for us as a council because it allows us to find ways to improve services while also reducing costs.
“The result is a better and more efficient council for the taxpayer. At a time when Government grants to local authorities are dramatically reducing, anything that means we can provide the services that residents need, want and deserve without massive hikes in council tax has got to be a positive.”
Anyone who has a paper permit can apply for a new online one when their renewal is due. To register or find out more information, visit www.canterbury.gov.uk/permits