Millions of drivers are stuck in parking app hell: More councils banish pay and display machines for hated cashless alternativesCharities and MPs said it was an ‘appalling’ trend that affects older people More than half of over-65s do not feel like using parking apps, the Mail has foundBy Fiona Parker and Connor Stringer
Published: 22:28, 2 April 2023 | Updated: 11:31, 3 April 2023
More than two million drivers will soon live in ‘parking meter deserts’.
Pay and display machines are increasingly being scrapped in favour of cashless options such as mobile phone apps.
Charity bosses and MPs said it was an ‘appalling’ trend and urged council chiefs to consider the impact on older motorists and struggling high streets.
A poll commissioned by the Mail found more than half of over-65s do not feel like using parking apps such as RingGo and PayByPhone. And four in ten respondents of all ages said they would be put off going to town centres that lacked parking meters.
‘Successful towns and high streets have accessible high streets and this involves easy-to-use car parking,’ said Andrew Goodacre of the British Independent Retailers Association.
(Stock Photo) Pay and display machines are increasingly being scrapped in favour of cashless options such as mobile phone apps
(Stock Photo) Charity bosses and MPs said it was an ‘appalling’ trend and urged council chiefs to consider the impact on older motorists and struggling high streets
I wouldn’t know what to do with a parking app… it’s too complicated With parking meters across Brighton and Hove being axed, drivers are furious at having to use a ‘complicated’ app instead.
Lucy, 58, visits the city’s popular Stanmer Park four times a month to walk her dogs Lola and Blue. After learning that the Green council will scrap the meters by the end of May, the school support worker said she would ‘boycott’ the park for good.
‘It’s extremely disappointing,’ she added. ‘I don’t want an app on my phone because I don’t think it is always that safe. I wouldn’t know what to do.’
A council spokesman said removing the machines would lead to significant savings when its budget had been hit by central government funding cuts and inflation.
‘I am appalled that many councils are introducing car parking apps instead of meters because these apps are a barrier to many car drivers.’
Experts warn some areas have too poor mobile internet coverage for machines to be eliminated. And they point out it is a further blow to high streets already struggling with lower footfall and rising costs such as rents.
Pay-and-display council machines are already a thing of the past in parts of London, including Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Barking and Dagenham, a Daily Mail audit found.
And by the end of next month meters will have vanished from Enfield, Bromley as well as Brighton and Hove.
Harrow is moving to a ‘cashlite’ system and has now switched off most of its machines. Slough is looking to scrap some this year.
Elsewhere, half a dozen councils confirmed their meter numbers had been reduced – with further cuts to come in Ealing. The west London council had 196 machines in 2016 but by the end of this year it will be just 60.
Reasons given by councils for axing the machines include the cost of handling cash, protecting ticket money from thieves and a decline in use. Others cited the expense of upgrading machines.
East Suffolk Council says it has slashed its meters from 126 to 96 to ‘reduce carbon emissions related to cash collection’.
Spokesmen for many town halls said motorists would still be able to pay for tickets in cash through the ‘Paypoint’ scheme in shops. Apps such as RingGo and PayByPhone allow drivers to give card details over the phone. But they can also charge extra fees of up to 30p an hour.
Clive Betts, Labour chairman of the Commons levelling up committee, last week warned ministers about the removal of parking machines.
In correspondence, he said: ‘People shouldn’t be left to wrestle with countless apps to pay a parking charge or risk a fine when they aren’t able to navigate the app successfully.
Experts warn some areas have too poor mobile internet coverage for machines to be eliminated
Clive Betts (pictured), Labour chairman of the Commons levelling up committee, last week warned ministers about the removal of parking machines
‘These developments pose particular difficulties for elderly or vulnerable motorists who may not have a smartphone, or who may struggle to use apps if they do.’
Caroline Abrahams of the charity Age UK said: ‘The news that we may soon see the end of pay-and-display parking is disastrous for anyone without a smartphone, including millions of older people.’
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: ‘In line with customer trends a number of councils have taken the decision to innovate and digitise a number of their parking services, including moving to cashless payments and removing parking meters when other more efficient and secure ways can be taken to make payments.’
The Mail survey was carried out by Consumer Intelligence.
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