Councils are accused of leaving tech-stricken drivers unable to pay

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Cashless parking ‘forces older people out of our cities’: Councils blamed for leaving tech-strapped drivers unable to pay as nearly half use card or phone app machines

  • Thirteen councils across England and Wales have gone totally cashless
  • Over the past 15 months, cashless people have been handed £257million in fines
  • In areas where all parking machines take cash, £158million has been raised

Campaigners have accused councils of forcing older and disabled people out of town centers after a survey by The Mail on Sunday found nearly half are now using parking machines which do not take coins but require drivers to pay by phone app or bank card.

Thirteen councils in England and Wales have gone totally cashless, meaning motorists who struggle with technology or don’t use a mobile phone can’t pay.

Over the past 15 months, councils that are cashless or have limited availability of cash-accepting machines have been hit with £257million in fines.

By comparison, £158million was collected from areas where all parking machines accept cash.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Cash is the payment method of choice for many older people, including when parking their car.

Thirteen councils in England and Wales have gone completely cashless, meaning motorists who struggle with technology or don’t use mobile phones can’t pay (stock image)

“While no one particularly likes shoving coins into a counter, if you don’t have a smartphone or credit card, machines that don’t take cash are useless, making it even harder to find somewhere to park than it already is.’

She added: ‘More and more services are cutting cash and threatening to disenfranchise millions of older people as a result. We urge all public bodies to continue supporting people who use cash, so they are not excluded.

The analysis of parking machines follows a request under freedom of information rules to more than 330 councils in England and Wales. Nearly 200 responded.

Craig Mackinlay, Tory MP and chairman of the Fair Fuel UK Motorists and Hauliers cross-party parliamentary group, said: ‘Many people cannot access labyrinthine parking systems often only accessible via smartphones and that is certainly true for the most vulnerable .

“Why should they be forced online for the convenience of advice which should be there to serve residents, not scam them?”

Latest figures from communications regulator Ofcom show that 59% of people aged over 65 use a smartphone, compared to more than 90% among 16-54 year olds.

Over the past 15 months, councils that are cashless or have limited availability of cash-accepting machines have been handed £257million in fines (stock image)

Over the past 15 months, councils that are cashless or have limited availability of cash-accepting machines have been handed £257million in fines (stock image)

Tory MP Greg Smith said: ‘The majority of us have smartphones and are able to use cashless parking apps, but that doesn’t mean everyone can. It is essential that the possibility of paying for parking in cash continues. To remove it is to deprive many people, especially the elderly and vulnerable, of the possibility of going outside.

Concerns have also been raised that parking apps are costing motorists more due to additional charges of up to 30 pence per hour.

Service charges are often set by municipalities and private operators in cooperation with payphone companies. In most cases, councils do not receive an additional fee reduction.

Craig Mackinlay (above), Conservative MP and chairman of the Fair Fuel UK Motorists and Hauliers cross-party parliamentary group, said:

Craig Mackinlay (above), Conservative MP and chairman of the Fair Fuel UK Motorists and Hauliers cross-party parliamentary group, said: ‘Many people cannot access labyrinthine parking systems often only accessible via smartphones and that is certainly true of the most vulnerable’

Responding to criticism, some cashless councils said drivers could use cash by finding designated PayPoints, located in nearby shops.

Councilor David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: ‘Councils are on the side of beleaguered motorists, shoppers and businesses and seek to provide a range of payment methods.

“Like so many organisations, councils have found that the public has welcomed the convenience of online technology. But they are also very attentive to the needs of those for whom online payment is not attractive.

He added: ‘Many councils make losses on parking services but when they make surpluses they are required to spend them on improving parking and transport facilities.

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