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Pay-and-display car parks in Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Thanet and Shepway could become a thing of the past

By Joe Wright

Car parks across half of Kent could be fitted with barriers operated by number-plate reading cameras if a £9m scheme goes ahead.

Council bosses in Canterbury are rolling out the pioneering technology across their district in a move which makes pay-and-display car parks obsolete.

Now council leaders in Dover, Ashford, Shepway and Thanet have indicated they want to follow suit and transform east Kent into a single off-street parking experience.

Barriers will be rolled out across the Canterbury district

Barriers will be rolled out across the Canterbury district

Following a successful ticketless trial, Canterbury City Council is now asking private companies to bid for a contract to supply the country’s first large-scale camera-controlled parking system for 16 of its car parks in the city, Whitstable and Herne Bay.

Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, who has led the project, said: “After spending a significant amount of time talking to our car park customers, we know they want a system that is easy to understand and allows them to pay in the most convenient way.

“That can be by setting up an online account or with cash, their card or via contactless. Our new ANPR system will be built to deliver on all of those needs.”

Cllr Ben-Fitter Harding and the ANPR barriers at Pound Lane car park, Canterbury

Cllr Ben-Fitter Harding and the ANPR barriers at Pound Lane car park, Canterbury

During the trial, the council found users of the new ticketless system stayed an average of 30 minutes longer than a traditional pay-and-display customer.

It also saw a dramatic fall in the number of parking fines, with penalties at one car park falling by more than 95%.

Cllr Fitter-Harding said: “Customers can relax because they will not be fined for overstaying. This boosts the local economy because the longer people stay, the more they spend in our shops, restaurants and attractions. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

“Fewer issues in our car parks mean our enforcement officers can tackle other problem parking hotspots and focus on dangerous parking outside of schools in the district.”

Car parks in Ashford could soon be ticketless

Car parks in Ashford could soon be ticketless

If neighbouring councils decide to go ahead with the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) scheme, the same equipment and system will be used in every car park.

Cllr Fitter-Harding added: “Over time this could mean residents across the area could use any number of ticketless car parks and pay through a single account.”

Tenders for the Canterbury district contract are open until Friday, January 19 and ANPR car parks will begin to be rolled out in early summer. All 16 car parks are hoped to be transformed by the summer of 2019.

Parking tickets might become a thing of the past

Parking tickets might become a thing of the past

The parks earmarked for the new system are...

Canterbury:

• Castle Row

• Castle Street multi-storey

• Holmans Meadow

• Longport

• Pound Lane

• Queningate

• St Radigund’s

• Station Road West

• Watling Street

• New Dover Road park and ride

• Sturry Road park and ride

• Wincheap park and ride

Gorrell Tank car park in Whitstable will become ticketless

Gorrell Tank car park in Whitstable will become ticketless

Whitstable:

• Gorrell Tank

• Middle Wall

Herne Bay:

• Neptune’s Arm

• William Street

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