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Controversial removal of city's pay and display machines gets under way

Councillor Carol Theobald says the removal of the pay and display machines amounts to discrimination <i>(Image: The Argus)</i>
Councillor Carol Theobald says the removal of the pay and display machines amounts to discrimination (Image: The Argus)

Controversial work to remove the city’s pay and display machines is now under way, the council have confirmed.

Brighton and Hove City Council voted earlier this year in favour of getting rid of the machines in an effort to save costs.

A report said the measure, which would save around £220,000, would eliminate the “large budget pressure” for converting all machines to 4G by early 2023, as well as lead to saving on cash collection, maintenance and other costs.

The report raised concerns that the move risked “digital exclusion” as “all payments would be through the Pay by Phone app”.

Machines will remain at the council’s off-street barrier car parks.

The Argus:
The Argus:

Other councils across England have taken similar measures, blaming the cost of changing meters over to 4G as mobile operators prepare to switch off their outdated 3G networks.

The move has proved contentious, with Age UK raising concerns that scrapping the machines could have an adverse effect on people who are less tech savvy.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said: “More than most, older people need to be able to park close to shops and amenities, especially if they find it hard to walk very far.

“The news that we may soon see the end of pay and display parking is disastrous for anyone without a smartphone, including millions for older people who are struggling with the shift away for the coin-in-the-slot payment methods they used throughout their lives.”

All the machines will be out of use by May 31, with motorists told to download the Pay by Phone app to make payments.

Patcham councillor Carol Theobald said the move amounts to discrimination against older residents.

She said: “I think it’s awful and there has been no real consultation. I can’t believe it is happening.

“What happens to residents and visitors who have not downloaded the app? There will be a good number who would not know how to do this. In my view, this is discrimination against our senior citizens.

“I think some people will be very upset and won’t know what to do or where to park - they will go to Eastbourne or Worthing or somewhere else instead.”


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A council spokesman said the removal of the parking meters would lead to “significant cost savings at a time when all councils are having to address huge financial challenges”.

He said: “Currently, 78 per cent of all on-street parking transactions in Brighton and Hove are made using the Pay by Phone app and telephone number, with 22 per cent made using the machines. Only two per cent are cash payments.

“People who have a debit or credit card but without access to the app can still pay by calling a telephone number.

“For the small number of people without the use of a debit or credit card, parking can still be purchased at one of the more than 150 Paypoint vendors across the city.”