Introduction of cashless parking met with criticism in Kingston

Residents in Kingston and the surrounding areas have criticised Kingston Council’s plans to change the way people pay for parking.

As of April, residents and visitors will no longer be able to pay for parking with cash in Kingston and instead will have to use their card or an app.

Resident Rose Cox said she felt the move should be optional, and that making it compulsory “takes the decision away from you”.

“There are additional charges added on to use the facilities,” she said. “If anything it should be cheaper to park than before as no one is having to go round and collect the cash from the machines.”

Customers will be able to pay for their parking by card at the usual parking metres or using the RingGo service, an app that will also charge a convenience charge on top of the parking fee.

The exception to this is Cattle Market, Bittoms and The Rose car parks, which will still accept cash payments for parking.

A spokesperson for Kingston Council said: “This change makes paying for parking much easier across the borough, providing more convenient options, while still allowing residents to pay by cash if they choose via PayPoint.

“The savings for the Council are part of its commitment to save £17m over the next four years, ensuring we can continue to deliver vital services to support residents and businesses to recover from the pandemic and invest in the future.”

Customers will still be able to use cash to pay for parking if they go to a convenience store and use the PayPoint services.

Those paying this way will need the location code of where the vehicle is parked. An allowance will be given for the journey on foot to reach the shop. There will be no requirement to return to your car to display a ticket.

There will be no price difference between payment methods.

Resident and group leader of the Kingston Independent Residents Group Helen Hinton said this move to cashless is isolating.

“The machines use MasterCard or Visa and 98 per cent of adults have debit cards, but still some people are paid in cash – usually those in casual work,” she said.

RingGo

The RingGo service requires drivers to use their phone to pay for parking.

This requires reception and a charged phone, something that people are not always in control of.

To use the online payment method, the vehicle and payment method need to be registered which can be done online or over the phone.

Help is available to register, but this is charged at £1.53 per minute, plus network charges.

A 20p convenience charge on top of normal parking fees is also paid.

When residents wish to have their parking confirmed, a fee of 10p for a text is charged.

Scam warnings 

A common criticism residents had was the risk of further scams able to take place in the cashless process.

The Council has stated on its website, and put notices on some pay-and-display machines, that it is aware of scams taking place involving the machines. 

Its website states: “Scammers are attaching devices to the card machine which means that the card is not returned and money is taken from the account.”

Hinton said: “The machines have been victims of fraud and there is a notice on the machines stating this. 

“Elderly people or people who have a low income would wish to avoid using the cards for this very reason. Most of the machines are in the street and many will feel vulnerable and unsafe putting their card into the machine outside – especially in the dark.”

If, when using the machines to make a car parking payment, your card is not returned, report it on 03301358952 Monday to Saturday 7am-10pm and Sunday 10.30am to 10pm. Outside of these hours, the Council advises calling 101 to report the incident.

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