North East Lincolnshire
North East Lincolnshire Council is a local authority serving 160,000 people. The Parking Service at NELC is delivered through a regeneration partnership with EQUANS Services Limited.
A Positive Start for North East Lincolnshire Parking System Modernisation Journey
Early in 2022 it published “The Council Plan” outlining details of services to be delivered and developments planned in the next 5 years. The Plan seeks to deliver transformation and innovation through the optimal use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the ambition of NELC to work with its partners to create ‘Stronger Economies’ and ‘Stronger Communities'.
Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) supports NELC priorities of stronger local economy/communities by integrating traffic management policies with effective on and off-street parking. This helps to manage congestion and flow and improve safety for pedestrians and drivers. It provides support for the local economy through the provisions of parking for retail, business, tourism and leisure.
In 2021 NELC and EQUANS awarded a parking management software contract to ZatPark following a competitive tender process. ZatPark has a strong track record of delivering market-leading parking management and permit solutions in the UK. The system has issued more that 10 million PCNs.
As part of the procurement process NELC and EQUANS undertook a full review of their parking operations and concluded that a new parking management system was required to transform the service and deliver a much improved and enhanced customer experience.
They wanted a future ready system system which took advantage of new technologies (e.g. Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and was capable of streamlining the parking back office processes. The service would move away from a paper based system of issuing permits, to a state of the art digital system, significantly reducing workloads, delays and giving residents and businesses the service they expected.
In addition, consideration was to be given to future integration/generic working of street scene-based enforcement activities undertaken by Environmental Enforcement Officers (EEOs).
The scope of the procurement was for a fully integrated IT solution to allow the issue and processing of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) and Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for civil parking contraventions and environmental crime. The system would also manage the processing of parking permits for residents and staff and season tickets for council’s car parks.
NELC and EQUANS collaboratively produced a business case that outlined objectives of the project and outcomes sought.
ZatPark was successful in beating the incumbent system supplier and two further bidders. Lynne Bromley, Parking Manager, EQUANS said “most of the procurement team and I had no prior knowledge of ZatPark until we started to evaluate the bids. The decision to select ZatPark was based on how well it met our requirements along with it being competitively priced. The quality of technical submission and thorough software demonstration showed a great deal of effort was made. It was the best solution to allow us to transform our service and improve value for money.”
Delivery of the project began immediately after the award of contract. To oversee the delivery of the project was Head of Onboarding & Implementation Oli Pelliccio. Oli has considerable experience in delivering enforcement projects of this scale and understands the benefits of taking a joined up approach. Oli worked closely with Lynne, who would oversee the project on behalf of EQUANS and NELC to develop an achievable project plan. This outlined the resource/time and activities that were needed to meet the plan. With multiple stakeholders involved it was clear that good communication was critical for the success of the project, regular weekly project calls were held to discuss progress, issues and risks. The project plan contained 3 major project milestones:
This plan would drive maximum value of the new system by quickly taking advantage of process and efficiency improvements. User training is a central pillar in achieving continuous improvement and key to its success is to avoid a one size fits all approach. A bespoke training plan for all EQUANS and NELC staff made sure everyone who use the software gets trained the right way to allow them to improve their performance at work. Experienced ZatPark trainers would guide staff through the software with interactive walkthroughs in an “I do, you do” training format. All training courses were delivered on site and at the appropriate stage in the implementation process. Experienced ZatPark support staff were on-site when software went live to support EQUANS/NELC staff and ensure a seamless transition to the new system.
Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 went live at NELC on-time and within budget. Lynne reported "The communication I have with ZatPark is exceptional, truly second to none. The team is always willing to assist and go the extra mile. Working with them has been a breath of fresh air and they are always positive which is a rare thing.
Our onboarding for the new back-office enforcement system went very smoothly and that is undoubtedly down to the team’s in-depth expertise. If everyone I had to work with was as good at their jobs as Tom and Oli then my working life would be a dream."
Oli said that “We are delighted that we’ve met our targets in delivering various stages efficiently and effectively. The success was a result of both parties bringing their domain expertise to the table, adopting a ‘can-do’ attitude and a willingness to work together to tailor the solution to meet the needs of NELC”
The greater automation of the new system is providing clear benefits as NELC are able to deliver a better service, using less resources and local residents and business experience a quicker and more-efficient service.
Phase 3 saw emphasis move from Parking Enforcement to Environmental Enforcement. The role of the EEOs is to investigate a variety of environmental crimes from fly tipping to waste carrier licences. The EEOs can but rarely issue FPNs, though they can, if they see people littering or failing to clear up after their dogs, issue retrospective fines after investigations and/or interviews.
Will Abe, Environmental Enforcement Manager, NELC said “The big difference between Parking and Environmental is the legal case pack that is completed in the back office that we have been working on with the ZatPark team. When an FPN isn’t paid or if we opt to go straight to prosecution rather than issuing an FPN we have to compile an expedited legal pack for our legal team to consider and a full prosecution pack when we agree it is sensible to go to court. Much of this information is pulled through from the case information entered for producing each ticket and saves officers typing 12 pages sometimes of repeat offender details.”
Some software development changes were required to maintain evidence captured during investigation and interviews as well facilitating the automatic generation of the legal and prosecution packs.
Tim Coleman, Head of Product, at ZatPark said “Following the initial sessions and workshops held with the On Boarding and Product Team to understand NELC requirements, the Product Team evaluated and refined the details into viable Epics and Stories. We use an Agile based framework to progress the stories through development to release. The Product Team operate in two-week sprints to refine, develop, test and retrospectively review the work with key stakeholders. Once deployed the feature is available for NELC to use and any feedback from NELC has been used to further refine and adjust the features. This link between the Product Team and NELC is key to a successful Product delivery and core to the Agile way of working.”
Will added “I would say the process has gone very well. I was excited to think of being involved from the outset of a bespoke FPN system that could also operate out in the field. We were always going to be reliant on how well it integrated with our back office finance system, which coincided with them implementing a brand new finance system so it’s all been happening. The willingness of Tom and Oli to work with our timetables has been excellent. Our priority is to drip feed some new cases to make sure there are no teething troubles with the public payments but then we anticipate it being full throttle for officers in my team to start issuing Fixed Penalties for offences investigated.”
A positive start has been made with NELC digital transformation programme, with a clear focus on local residents or businesses. Delivery of the service has moved from being labour and resource intensive. The take up of online services reinforce that customers want access to services 24/7.
Dave Herbert CEO of ZatPark said “We thrive on creative partnerships and are really excited to partner NELC and EQUANS. We understand the increasing demands they face to provide better services and are proud of the achievements in their transformation journey. We are committed to the parking sector and have a dedicated team, who possess a wealth of knowledge and experience of our products, technology and market needs. We will continue to enhance our software and services by adopting new technologies and ideas”