Removing cash option from Arun’s car park machines is opposed

Councillors have ruled out a transition to cashless pay-to-park machines by 2024.

Cash payment for parking
Cash payment for parking

They were discussing Arun District Council’s new off-street parking strategy at a meeting on Wednesday (November 17).

Part of the strategy had hoped to phase out cash payment in council car parks by 2024 but environment committee members were ‘not comfortable’ with the initiative.

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Matt Stanley (LDem, Marine) said: “I think economically, it’s vital that we look at contactless technology. Having said that, the removal of cash by 2024 is a concern for me.

“Just to put some figures behind it, there are currently 1.3 million adults in the UK without access to a bank account.”

Mr Stanley said those who rely on cash are ‘some of the vulnerable members in society’ so he is ‘deeply uncomfortable about the removal of cash’.

Andy Cooper (Con, Angmering and Findon) said: “It’s not often you’ll hear this in this chamber, but I agree with Councillor Stanley on the removal of cash machines.

“I work in an industry where I see people can only deal with cash.”

Council officers explained that going cashless in car parks is ‘an aspiration’ due to the time it takes to collect coins and because machines have been damaged in the past.

“We’ve had people try to break into our machines and – although they don’t get away with huge amounts of money – the actual damage to the machine is quite considerable,” one officer explained.

Despite potential benefits of going cashless, councillors approved an amendment to the strategy which will see all car park payment machines accept both contactless and cash going forward.

Better disabled spaces

Amanda Worne (LDem, Yapton) called for improvements to disabled spaces.

The council has a duty to provide disabled spaces in its car parks that are of a decent size and in convenient locations; something it is ‘totally compliant’ with, say officers.

But Mrs Worne, herself a wheelchair user, said that wider spaces would be more beneficial.

She said: “It isn’t the proximity to where you’re going that’s the issue, it’s the size of the bay to be able to open the door wide enough to get a wheelchair out.

“I can wheel for miles and miles, that’s not my issue – it’s the width.”

Officers said there was ‘no reason why’ this could not be addressed when it comes to resurfacing car parks.

Greener car parks

A discussion also took place about novel solutions to make council car parks greener.

Isabel Thurston (Green, Barnham) wants to see more planting around car parks to make them ‘much more attractive’ and bring ‘environmental benefits’.

She asked if recycled materials or tarmac alternatives could be used.

Council officers said that they are looking into increased planting and that a successful bid to the ‘levelling up fund’ would help with costs.

They added that an alternative to tarmac had been used at Hotham Park car park and could be considered in the future too.

What is the new parking strategy?

Environment committee members voted to adopt the new off-street parking strategy which will last until 2026.

It is hoped this will see ‘safe, well maintained car parks that meet the needs of residents, shoppers and visitors to Arun’.

Car parking charges are also an important source of council income.

A major part of the strategy is installing electric vehicle (EV) charging points in council car parks from 2022.

This is the first time the council has adopted an off-street parking strategy.