The art of keeping cool

Surface car parks require continual upkeep and maintenance, with problems such as broken signs, fading lines and potholes being common. Rather than let surface car parks deteriorate to the point where contractors are called in, CP Plus is able to institute their own repair regimes as part of facilities maintenance (FM) services. This approach has been implemented at car parks across the country. for clients include local authorities, NHS Trusts, retailers, motorway service operators and English Heritage. 

'Besides replacing signs, refreshing lines and filling in pot-holes, CP Plus now also replaces light bulbs and deep cleans car parks as a core activity,' says head of development Gavin Povey. 'We also look after landscaping, weeding and replanting verges in car parks.' When required, CP Plus will bring in specialist refurbishment contractors to upgrade both surface and multi-storey car parks.

 The company will also project manage refurbishments for clients. 'We managed the upgrade at Mutley Plain for Plymouth Council as well as numerous hospital car parks nationally,' says Povey. When a car park is being upgraded, CP Plus will specify the new layout, materials, signage and payment equipment being installed. While the refurbishment contractors are on site, CP Plus’ next challenge is then ensuring the car park is kept operational.

'We will plan night working and phasing of works with the contractors and our on- site staff will be particularly involved in traffic management,' he says. Preparing for snow and ice needs careful planning and constant monitoring of weather alerts from the Met Office. CP Plus has formulated a winter weather strategy for a number of their clients. There are legal liabilities that a parking operator must be aware of when clearing snow and ice.

'If we opened a car park or footpaths and they were not safe and someone had an accident we could be liable if we were found to be negligent,' says Povey. Gritting is at the heart of any winter resilience package. Throughout the summer the company stockpiles reserves of sand and salt. 'On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very, very important, having enough gritting material is a 10 obviously.' CP Plus staff are trained in snow clearance and, where this service is part of its contract, they are equipped with manual grit spreaders for footpaths and gritting trailers for the car parks. 

'At sites where we manage gritting ourselves, we set up an alert with the Met Office so that if the ground temperature is going to freeze we get an early warning,' says Povey. 'We also use sub-contractors who monitor the weather in the same way and undertake roadway gritting for us.' 

However much they prepare, car park operators like CP Plus are dependent on local highways authorities to keep the roads leading to their sites clear. 'Where access roads belong to the car park then we do it,' says Povey. 'If they are adopted roads, then we can’t and it’s up to the relevant highways authority.' Povey will be hoping councils and the Highways Agency are also well prepared when the thermometers plunge.