Mobile phone car park tickets denied

SIDMOUTH pensioners could be left confused if council officials turn car parks into 'cash-free' zones.

SIDMOUTH pensioners could be left confused if council officials turn car parks into 'cash-free' zones.The idea of cashless car parks was discussed by East Devon District Council's executive last week because it costs taxpayers some £60,000 a year to have cash collected from its 42 pay and display car parks.Methods of payment could include buying pre-paid parking tickets on a monthly or annual basis or people could text their car registration and payment details from a mobile phone.During the debate, EDDC's head of finances, Diccon Pearse, said: "Most of the cost of running the car parks is transferring the money to a bullion centre in Bristol."We might be moving to a cashless car park scheme in the future to reduce operating costs."Council leader Sara Randall Johnson said: "This is another good reason to buy our pre-paid parking tickets. You pay once and it reduces our costs."Such measures were not welcomed by Albert Venison, president of Devon Pensioners' Action Forum, who said: "This is so ridiculous. It is impossible to believe intelligent people can sit down and sensibly discuss this. "A lot of pensioners don't own a mobile phone and, if they do, don't know how to text in a proper manner."I am sure EDDC is looking forward to the £60 fines this will incur from tourists who arrive without knowing about the scheme."The executive accepted a tender from Contract Security Services of £54,090 to collect the parking machine cash after receiving three bids, the highest being for £129,414.A statement from EDDC said: "It was not suggested at the meeting the council should introduce texting as a means of handling car park payments."In answer to a question about our cash collection contract, texting and credit cards were mentioned as being among the latest payment methods."The notion that a cash payment option might be withdrawn altogether is fanciful, despite the fact there is a handling charge involved in shipping the cash to the bank securely."A spokesman said using mobiles to pay car park fees was very new technology and, if introduced, would have to be offered as one of several payment options including debit and credit cards. l Have your say: write to the Herald at 106 High Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8EF.

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