To find a rare lady executive in the parking sector of public service, meet Anjna Patel. She's the first woman and the first person of colour to become President of the British Parking Association.
Who is Anjna Patel?
Despite arriving in the UK from Uganda in the 1970s speaking no English, Anjna has a 29 year career in road safety and parking in Sandwell. For the last four years she has been a principal officer. She is a Fellow with the same organisation.
Anjna has also established her own charity (Parasol) to raise funds for injured military personnel (to date £100,000) by arranging golf days, sponsored walks etc which, despite the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, she participates in. For her public service, she is an MBE.
Why Anjna Patel focusses on Parking
She tells us;
“Not long ago parking was free or low cost. Land is a commodity so there is a requirement to manage the land efficiently - be that in private ownership or in public. Council car parks cost money in maintenance, business rates etc. Whilst most local authorities try to keep the charges to a minimum, it still has to be managed without pressure being put on other, more important services like children and adult services.
Challenges in the Parking Sector
Anjna comments: “The challenges are to ensure that innovation and technology keep the costs to a minimum and also support the rising costs of managing car parks. The Parking Sector is excited that technology and car manufactures are working collaboratively to assist drivers by providing seamless end to end journeys with fuel efficiency. The innovation and technology areas want to ensure traffic is managed and congestion is minimised.
The other challenges are to ensure that there is a buy in of the move to a futuristic approach. This is not so difficult in the urban areas but a little challenging in rural areas.”
The Challenges of Being an Asian Woman
Anjna Patel states, “I have had challenges not only in this country, but also in India during my formative years. Although we are changing, there are still barriers that are faced by Asian women at home as well as at work. I believe that today’s women have a work life balance, but it is at a cost. The pressures of trying to manage both environments can leave them helpless and unable to get help, this is more so for women with ambition. Stereotyping is still rife in the work place, especially in local government with bullying being a norm. There is no support available.”
What are the most Interesting and Unknown Facts about Parking?
Anjna reveals, “Most people see parking in terms of parking tickets only. Managed Parking is essential.There is a skills sector behind it. Professions that support it include IT, engineering, law, administration, Business management, Training, Media, Journalism, Charity, Governance, event management, development of technology, innovation.”
What is the Best Way of Finding a Stress Free Parking Place?
Anjna reveals, “Depending on where you are travelling to, you can use an app called “appy parking” where you can identify all the restriction, limits of parking on street and car parks charges and locations . This is adopted by many parking organisations including local authorities. There are now companies that also provide reserved parking places. The best way to travel is by planning a journey especially if the destination is not one you have visited before. You can regularly visit your own local authorities' website to see what is happening locally in order to avoid surprises as restrictions are regularly reviewed and altered.”
“Women in the Parking Sector”
“The parking sector has perhaps more than 50% women- however, it does not have many women in higher positions. This is where support and mentoring comes into its own.”
Anjna Patel's ambition is to be as good as she can be and to make a difference. She says, “ I want to ensure that I have contributed towards the creation of a pathway for ambitious individuals in the sector as well as seeing a transition to a seamless journey and moving from enforcement of parking perception to management of parking belief.
I also want to ensure that the Victorian values charity that was set up by my partner Roy and I, to support injured British soldiers and their families carries on, supported by companies in the parking sector and in time hope that our son Russell, a Senior Captain ( 2 MERCIAN) in the army will continue to take it forward with his peers.”