A PAY and display system introduced at Castle Lane car park to replace the manned kiosk has been described by one local trader as ‘another blow’ in the battle to compete with out-of-town shopping centres.
Under the previous system motorists would be charged on the way out of the car park based on how long their stay had been. The new pay and display system means customers must pay up front with a minimum charge of 40p being put in place and no change being given.
Stuart Castles, who owns Buttered Up in Windsor Avenue, said: “I use the Castle Lane car park regularly when picking up bread from the Iceland store. Previously, you could park free for nine minutes for a quick pick-up from the store. The minimum charge is now 40p for the first hour regardless.
“The machines do not give change, so if caught out shoppers may well have to use a 50p, or £1 coin, regardless of the duration of their shopping. It’s hardly promoting business in hard-hit town centres who are trying to compete with out-of-town centres with free parking.”
The Mail understands several customers of the local Iceland store had been caught out by the machine and ended up paying for two and half hours parking when they only needed half an hour. But no one at the store was able to comment.
Roads Service confirmed the Castle Lane car park converted from a kiosk to a pay and display car park on January 26.
A Roads Service spokesperson said: “The tariff in this car park did not change and remains unchanged at 40p per hour.
“With the pay and display operation, a five minute grace period is given to purchase a ticket or begin a cashless parking event with Parkmobile which offers the payment of parking without the need for change or cash at all, by way of a phone call or mobile phone app.”
It’s believed any system whereby free parking for ‘quick pick ups’ up to a maximum of 10 minutes would have occurred at the discretion of the person manning the kiosk.
Either way, it was not something Roads Service were aware of. The spokesperson said: “In operation as a kiosk car park, the attendant may have given a driver an opportunity to enter the car park and look for a space or else leave, but parking was never free for the first 10 minutes.”
With regard the change issue the spokesperson said: “No pay and display machines offer change and we are unaware any pay and display machines used elsewhere in the UK which offer change. If such pay and display machines are available, we would expect their cost to be prohibitive, particularly at a time when the department is striving to create efficiencies in providing parking enforcement and car park management services.”
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