Monday, 16 July 2018

What a coin-undrum... drivers overcharged

PARKING machines in Henley are overcharging drivers because they are outdated.

PARKING machines in Henley are overcharging drivers because they are outdated.

The pay and display devices are unable to accept new 5p and 10p coins, which means motorists have to pay over the 30p charge for an hour’s stay.

The machines were installed by Oxfordshire County Council in 1994 and the tariff has remained at 30p for an hour and 40p for two hours ever since.

The overcharging problem was spotted by David Walker, of Niagara Road, who contacted the Henley Standard with what he called an “interesting conundrum”. He said: “I noticed that the pay and display ticket machine at the end of New Street closest to Friday Street bears a notice saying that it doesn’t accept new 5p or 10p coins. Smaller denominations aren’t accepted either and I’m therefore keen to learn how the council expects me to purchase the 30p one-hour parking tariff advertised on the same machine?”

Mr Walker, 42, who works for Peter Brett Associates in Reading, said: “I am not that mobile because I have back problems so I drive into Henley quite a lot, about two or three times a week.

“I use the spaces in Friday Street and outside Chiltern House in Station Road and others just to pop to the shops. An hour’s stay is more than sufficient to go to the post office or the chemist, that sort of thing.”

Mr Walker said that despite the overcharging, the cost of street parking in Henley was good value.

He said: “There are no two-ways about it, when you go to other market towns like Maidenhead or Reading you realise that you are lucky but in the short term I think they should remove the hour tariff and update their signage.”

David Nimmo Smith, who represents Henley on the county council, said the problem with the machine was that they used old technology.

He said: “We have tweaked them as much as we can and there is a guy coming from county to look at them. Some have already been tweaked to take the new coinage but some have been tweaked too much so they accept the coins for a couple of days but then go out of kilter.

“One of the problems with the machines is that they continue to be adjusted and some have gone beyond the adjustment stage and it is difficult to get spare parts.”

He said that to install new validators would cost £500 per machine and to replace the machines with modern ones would cost about £5,000 each.

Cllr Nimmo Smith said the problem was likely to be solved by increasing the charges.

He said: “We will be increasing parking charges across the county as we haven’t done it for some time. The machines were installed in 1994 and there has been no increase in the charges since then. It is the cheapest parking in town — if you can get a space. Looking at the charges over 20-odd years, people have had a good deal.”

A county council spokesman said: “We are aware that some motorists have been experiencing difficulty using newly minted 5p and 10p coins in a small number of pay and display machines in Henley.

“This is a national problem affecting many older vending and ticket machines and the council is working closely with the manufacturers to find a solution.

“Work has been carried out to adjust the machines to better accept the new coins but there is still a chance some may not be accepted and so signing has been added to make drivers aware of this issue.

“The machines continue to accept older 5p and 10p coins without problems.

“We apologise for the current situation and are making arrangements for the machines to be adapted to accept all new coins.”

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