Teething problems are to be expected from a parking contract destined to save the county council half a million pounds a year, says Peter Butlin, portfolio holder for transport and planning.
Cllr Butlin was speaking after some fellow councillors questioned the wisdom of transferring the on-street parking contract to private national company NSL Ltd.
The transfer was made at the start of November and almost immediately ran into problems in Warwick where there was a mix-up over closing parking bays on Remembrance Sunday and on Armistice Day.
Last week resident permit holders who live in central Warwick contacted the Courier to say they had not had new passes posted to them and were worried about getting tickets when leaving vehicles outside their own homes.
Among these was Alan Brickwood, who lives in St Nicholas Church Street, Warwick, who not only complained to county council officers but wrote to Cllr Butlin direct.
Mr Brickwood said: “My £15 permit allowing me to park outside my home and within a certain zone of Warwick expired on November 30 and 1 received a letter reminding me I could renew it online.
“I also received a letter posted on November 25, sent second-class, that arrived on November 28 referring me to my expiring permit. But the website wasn’t responding, the company doesn’t work Sundays and I spent 20 minutes on the phone on Monday trying to get through.
“After that I started paying to park because this new company appeared to be incompetent and I wasn’t prepared to put it to the test.
“When I spoke to somebody at the county council it was suggested there might be hundreds in my position.”
It’s since emerged that traffic wardens now employed by NSL may have a “white list” of names of motorists who have managed to renew their residents’ parking permits and so will not be issued with tickets.
Last week Cllr Butlin told county councillors who had been contacted by people in the same position as Mr Brickwood: “Members have heard complaints from residents but it is the nature of these things that people only tend to notice a glitch in the system.
“For the most part the contract with NSL has started very smoothly.
“That said, there have been teething problems at the outset, as you would expect from a contract that will save the county council around half a million pounds per year.
“We are confident that these issues, which have inconvenienced a small number of residents, will be ironed out and a more balanced system for enforcement will benefit the whole county.”