Council makes £30,000 from car park machines which do not give change

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DRIVERS in the Vale have been left out of pocket by just under £30,000 in 10 months by council parking machines which do not give change.

A user of the Aylesbury Vale District Council- owned car parks, Simon Lawrence, put forward a Freedom of Information request to find out how much the authority was making from excess change collected by these machines.

Mr Lawrence said: “I find it increasingly irritating that most of the car park machines in the area don’t give change.

“They seem to set tariffs that are deliberately set at levels that require combinations of small change. For example, there can often be tariffs of £1.30, say. And as most people don’t carry lots of small change they end up paying £1.50 or £2.

“Individually these are relatively small amounts of money, but it made me wonder – in times of austerity – just how much money this amounts to collectively.

“And I was quite shocked that in 10 months to February this year it worked out to be just under £30,000 – quite a lot of money sneakily taken.”

When asked about the machines, Stephen Harding, parking services manager at the district council, claims the reason for its pay and display machines not giving change is that the council is unaware of any machines existing that do.

However a straightforward Google search proves such machines do exist – and are sold by UK firm ‘parcare’.

“We understand some drivers find it frustrating that our pay and display machines do not give change,” said Mr Harding.

“Unfortunately, within the parking industry we are not aware of suppliers that manufacture pay and display machines with the option for change giving, mainly due to the security risks associated with machines having change within them at all times.

“Any surplus change in the parking fund goes toward the costs of running our car parks.

“Our long-term aim is to introduce an alternative method where motorists can pay using their mobile phones.”

In response to the findings, Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Getting change from machines is part of good customer service, which unfortunately seems to be something many car park operators have failed to learn over the years.”

A spokesman from the Taxpayers Alliance added: “It’s unfair of the council to fills its coffers by effectively overcharging for parking.

“Drivers shouldn’t pay any more than they have to for parking.”