Cashless parking ‘forces older people out of our cities’: Councils accused of leaving tech-savvy drivers unable to pay as nearly half use card machines or phone apps
- Thirteen councils across England and Wales are now completely cashless
- In the past 15 months, cashless people have collected £257 million in fines
- £158 million raised in areas where all parking machines earn cash
Council activists have been accused of forcing the elderly and the disabled out of city centers after an investigation by The Mail on Sunday found that nearly half now use parking machines that don’t take coins but instead ask drivers to pay via a phone app or Bank card.
Thirteen councils in England and Wales are now completely cashless, meaning motorists who struggle with technology or don’t use a mobile phone are unable to pay.
In the past 15 months, councils that are not cash or have limited availability of cash-accepting machines have raised £257m in fines.
By comparison, £158m was raised in areas where all parking machines earn cash.
Caroline Abrahams, director of philanthropy at Age UK, said: “Cash is the preferred method of payment for many elderly people, including when they park their cars.
Thirteen councils in England and Wales are now completely cashless, meaning motorists who are tech-savvy or don’t use a mobile phone are unable to pay (stored image)
While no one particularly enjoys pushing coins to a meter, if you don’t have a smartphone or a credit card, machines that don’t take cash will be of no use at all, making finding a parking space more difficult than it really is.” .
She added: “More and more services are running out of cash and threatening to deprive millions of older people as a result. We urge every public facing body to continue to meet the needs of people who use cash, so that they are not left out.”
Parking machines analysis follows an application under Freedom of Information rules to more than 330 councils in England and Wales. Nearly 200 responded.
‘Not many people have access to maze parking systems that are often only accessible via smartphones,’ said Craig McKinlay, Conservative MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group Fair Fuel UK Motorists and Hauliers. This certainly applies to the most vulnerable groups.
“Why should they be forced into the Internet for the convenience of councils that should be there to serve the population, not to get rid of them?”
The latest figures from the communications organization Ofcom show that 59 percent of people aged over 65 use a smartphone, compared to more than 90 percent of those aged 16-54.
In the past 15 months, councils that are not or have limited availability of cash-accepting machines have collected £257 million in fines (stock image)
Tory MP Greg Smith said: “Most of us own smartphones and can use cashless parking apps, but that doesn’t mean everyone can. It is critical that you continue to be able to pay for parking with cash. Getting rid of them takes away the ability of many, especially the elderly and frail, to get out.
Concerns have also been raised that parking apps are costing motorists more as a result of surcharges of up to 30p at a time.
Service fees are often set by private boards and operators in cooperation with telephone payment companies. In most cases, councils do not receive a deduction from the surcharge.
Craig McKinlay (above), Conservative MP and chair of the all-party group Fair Fuel UK Motorists and Hauliers said: “Not many people have access to the labyrinth parking systems that can only be accessed via smartphones and that certainly is. It applies to the most vulnerable groups.
In response to the criticism, some cashless boards have said that drivers can use cash by finding specific PayPoints, located at nearby stores.
Councilor David Renard, transportation spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils stand with hard-pressed motorists, shoppers and businesses, and look to offer a range of payment methods.
Like many organizations, councils have found that the public welcomes the convenience that online technology provides. But they also pay close attention to the needs of those who are not attracted to online payment.
“A lot of councils lose out on parking services but when they generate surpluses, they have to spend them on improving parking and transportation facilities,” he added.