Imagine if you will arriving at an unfamiliar town or city by car: how do you decide where to park? What do you look for? Somewhere convenient? Somewhere cheap or free? On street? Off-street in a car park? How do you know it's safe?
Park Mark® is the brand of the UK Safer Parking Scheme, launched in 2004 by the BPA who operate the Scheme and is probably the most successful vehicle crime reduction Scheme in the world. It is certainly one which has contributed to a very significant fall in vehicle related crime in the UK over the past 10 years. When choosing where to park, motorists should look out for ParkMark® car parks which means they are Police accredited parking and comprise quality management, appropriate lighting, effective surveillance and a clean environment. They can also search for their nearest Park Mark® car park using the dedicated Scheme website found at www.parkmark.co.uk
So what has this got to do with Historic Towns? Well my experience has taught me that parking is a means to an end, it is the first and last impression of my ‘destination’; it needs to be good if I’m to contemplate returning there again and again. This is especially true in the retail and commercial world where [hopefully] my custom is valued. It is equally true when I visit an unfamiliar town or city, park at a rail station, or simply spend a day at leisure maybe visiting a historic town. It's an old cliché but the old ones are the best: ‘You only get one chance to make a good first impression!’
Equally important is my need to feel intuitively safe and welcome wherever I choose to park and seeking out ParkMark® supports my desire to achieve that.
Park Mark® is as much about reducing the fear of crime as it is in reducing actual crime in car parks, and ensuring that car parks and properly designed and managed. Practitioners involved in the design of the public realm and who will help to deliver the renaissance of our historic towns and cities must strive to provide parking facilities and controls which balance the need for accessibility to these places with the requirement to preserve or indeed restore the original characteristics that attracted the journey in the first place!
At the BPA we work closely with a multitude of local authorities, businesses and other organisations who deliver parking services throughout the UK. Our aim is simple: ‘Excellence in Parking for All’ and we seek to educate our members in promoting best practice and sharing knowledge. We also work with other organisations and are pleased to be associated with Historic Towns Forum which is a full member of our Parking Forum. The Forum, a multi-agency ‘think tank’, comprises a number of organisations with whom we explore and share information about the way in which parking is enforced, provided, serviced and maintained. I look forward to continuing a conversation with you in the coming months through your newsletter and would welcome any feedback. Please write to me at feedback@Britishparking.co.uk
Kelvin Reynolds is the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Parking Association.