• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

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Pay and dismay: GEM members fight cash-only parking options

  • “There’s nothing convenient about needing 30 different parking apps.”
  • “I was trapped in the car park until someone agreed to pay on my behalf.”
  • “I have no mobile phone and am now precluded from using many car parks.”

GEM Motoring Assist, the road safety and breakdown organisation, is urging councils across the UK to ensure they continue to allow cash payments for parking. The call follows a raft of letters and emails from GEM members concerned that they will be forced to download smartphone parking apps as traditional pay-and-display options disappear.

Particular areas of concern included the multitude of apps required for different car parks, poor signals causing download delays and so-called ‘convenience fee’ surcharges levied by car park providers on drivers using pay-by-phone options.

Half of all London councils have already removed some or all of their pay-and-display machines1. The gradual switching-off of the 3G network is believed to be in part to blame, with local authorities reluctant to spend large amounts on installing more up-to-date card payment options.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: “Not everyone has a smartphone, so it is simply not right that parking in our town centres and high streets should be available only to those who do have one.

“It seems a clear case of discrimination against those who cannot – or would rather not – switch to app-based payments.

“Our town centre retailers need all the support they can get in these difficult economic times. We understand the need for councils to save money, but they must be careful not to alienate anyone for whom smartphone payments are not possible.

“We urge local authorities to ensure there will always be the option to pay by cash. This helps both shoppers and retailers.”

GEM’s tips for streetwise parking

  • Once installed, a parking app can offer a quick and straightforward way of paying. It seldom takes more than a few simple clicks to pay for a session.
  • If you’re driving to an unfamiliar location, consider booking and paying for your car park space in advance. This will remove the stress of needing to locate, download and activate yet another app once you’ve arrived and parked.
  • If you’re planning to pay cash for parking, check you have the right change. Car park machines rarely give change, meaning millions of unnecessary additional revenue is simply handed on a plate every year to local authorities and car park operators.
  • Some apps can be set to warn you when your parking is about to expire, but they usually charge for this. If you don’t need the service, ensure you de-select it.
  • Watch out for surcharges imposed on cash payments for parking, as councils have a duty to ensure they do not discriminate against older people or those with vulnerabilities.
  • Download ‘AppyParking’ which will help you find a free on-street parking space anywhere in the UK.

What our members said:
The Autumn edition of Good Motoring, the GEM members’ magazine, published a selection of concerns regarding app-based parking. A more positive response is also included:

I am 84 years old, live alone in a very rural location and do not have a mobile phone because I cannot get a signal at home. I am OK with using my debit card or cash at parking meters. Having only the option of app payment would preclude me from using a car park. IJ

I really believe that taking away a cash option would be disastrous and could isolate many people. At a time when many towns are struggling, and empty shops are becoming a normal sight, I can’t see this being beneficial on any level. MB

I consider myself to be fairly savvy with regard to technology, however I feel that older people are particularly victimised and undue stress is caused. DJ

Phones don’t always work in all areas and signing up to the use of apps is a lengthy process and usually requires divulging personal financial data. BG

Over the past years I have found that I am being increasingly unable to enjoy some beaches and parks because the ‘Pay and Display’ machines have been replaced with app-only payments. Even the pay-by-card only machines have been taken out in places. AP

Most parking apps have one big advantage: around 10 minutes before your time expires they send you a reminder and the opportunity to extend the time without returning to your car. The solution would seem to keep at least one cash-only machine that issues a ticket in each car park. RH

Keep up to date with GEM Motoring Assist at:
Twitter: @motoringassist
Facebook: @gemmotoringassist
Instagram: @gem_motoringassist
LinkedIn: @gem-motoring-assist-limited

By admin