I find the only way to bear it is to take time off work so that I can go in the middle of the day. And I'm afraid I agree that it's not a very pleasant experience - the staff are indifferent and unfriendly. But I guess the resident's parking scheme has improved since the first year it was introduced when it was literally impossible, as a non-benefit claiming home owner, to provide the level of proof required to buy a permit! Surely if it's possible to pay a parking fine online (which I think it is) it must be possible to renew a permit?
http://www.internetbusiness.co.uk/2010/09/07/uk-councils-save-230m-... apparently if you have an iphone or similar then you might not even have to leave your armchair
"Using apps to allow residents to purchase a parking ticket before they leave their house, and other services such as informing the populace about planning applications online, have all helped to boost UK councils’ fiscal health to this several hundred million pound tune."