Digital Exclusion of Elderly Residents

Following a decision by the Estates Parking Team to make access to visitors parking permits virtual only, and only available via a (quite confusing) web portal, elderly residents are being digitally excluded. This was confirmed by Clarence Parks (Estates Parking Manager) in response to a members question submitted by Cllr Natasha Ennin, and is subject to an ongoing FoI request. This is an unfortunate example of a steady move towards the ‘digital exclusion’ of residents who are tech adverse, or unable to still afford a broadband connection.

Unfortunately, this policy excludes elderly residents who are either tech adverse, (or unable to justify broadband costs) from accessing visitors permits, and just reinforces the social isolation in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. The elderly are being denied the opportunity to have a relative, visitor or grandchild drop in to visit,  by their inability to provide a visitors parking permit to them. Also, they are unable to provide parking for tradespeople, & delivery drivers.
Following the pandemic, these residents are facing issues of social isolation, & deprivation of social contact as a result of this restrictive policy.
Prior to the pandemic there was a perfectly functional paper permit scheme, where residents could purchase a 10 visit paper permit, and offer the use of this to visitors & tradespeople. These were available to purchase from the One Stop Shops in the borough.
We believe that there should be a dual access system offering traditional paper permits alongside a digital virtual option.

There is nothing to stop retaining the paper based system for those who are unable to access the online system and avoiding excluding the elderly, those who can no longer afford broadband, and less technically literate residents.

We raised this issue with Cllr Ennin, back in November 2022, and again at the recent ‘Empowering Communities Joint Ward Forum’, with Cllr Natasha Ennin, Cllr John Batteson, Cllr Martin Seaton & Cllr Naima Ali . All these councillors voiced their dismay at the move to ‘digital only’ visitors permits & committed to reviewing the elimination of the much simpler paper permit scheme.

We sincerely hope that our councillors can overturn this ‘Digital Exclusion’ policy against our senior residents.