Council clocks up thousands from out-of-date parking meters
Manchester Council is raking in thousands of pounds extra from its parking meters - because they make it impossible to pay with the right coins.
Up to 240 machines across the city are so out of date that they won't accept the new 5p and 10p pieces, even though it's three years since they were introduced. But because the machines won't give change, motorists are forced to overpay to make sure they avoid a fine.
An hour's parking should cost £1.25, but the out-of-date machines mean that customers have to use a £1 coin and two 20p pieces - an overpayment of 15p.
Manchester Council has pocketed thousands of pounds as a result.
Darren Edwards, 42, tells the Manchester Evening News that he was forced to overpay for his parking last week as the machine could not take the correct change.
"I know it is not much but if you think how often those parking spots are used, and if everyone is over paying that soon adds up," he says.
The council has apologised, and says it should finish re-calibrating all its machines by the end of this month.
"There is also an alternative payment method – Pay by Phone – which doesn't require correct change as the tariff is charged directly to the customer's credit or debit card via their mobile phone," says Luthfur Rahman, the council's assistant executive member for environment.
"This cashless method also allows customers to purchase further parking time, up to the maximum permitted, with no need to return to the pay and display machine, as well as providing text reminders when their parking time is about to expire."
Parking meters can represent a nice little earner for councils, even when they're functioning as they should. Between them, they made around £635 million from parking charges last year - as well as another £360 million from parking fines.
Cornish councils recently justified installing meters that don't give change, saying it saved having to stock them with cash. However, a BBC Freedom of Information request revealed that it was pulling in an extra £300,000 a year as a result.
Last summer, though, the government announced plans to allow motorists a ten-minute grace period when parking, as well as a freeze on parking penalty charges, a ban on CCTV cars patrolling the streets for parking infringements, and the introduction of a new right for locals to challenge parking rules in their area.