Drivers in Medway were up in arms after car parking machines appeared to have transitioned to cashless payment only, resulting in one shopper refusing to pay for parking.
Machines were in fact just broken but residents were in a fluster about the possibility of car parking machines going cashless.
Car parks in Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester and Rainham were amongst those that were not accepting cash payments and required drivers to use alternative payment methods on a phone.
Erika Pennington, 39, was concerned about how cashless car parking machines would affect the elderly and therefore doesn’t pay for parking where machines do not accept cash.
She said: “If the machine wasn’t working and I had to use payment on my phone I refused to because elderly people don’t always have that opportunity [to pay via phone], so I don’t.”
The Cathedral Garage car park in Rochester was one of those affected.
Erika added: “This machine wouldn’t accept any coins they just kept dropping through. I didn’t have a phone because my battery had run out so I couldn’t use the app, which is not great for older people.
“I put a note in front of the car and said I couldn’t get a ticket.
“Luckily I didn’t get a parking ticket.”
Most car parks offer other methods of payment, either via telephone or by paying on an app for when parking machines are not working.
Sue Haggerton, 67, was late for an appointment when facing difficulty trying to use alternative payment methods in Jeffrey Street car park, Gillingham.
She said: “I rang but was unable to complete the payment as the system would not accept my registration number.
“I then had to download the app.
“I was actually very late for my appointment that morning which did not please the person I was going to see.”
She has also questioned how cashless parking machines will affect elderly people who may not have a smart phone or know how to use the app payment.
She added: “I do believe it may well be restricting them from going about their usual daily business.”
Councillor Phil Filmer wants to reassure residents that the council do not intend for car parking machines to go cashless.
He said: “Where people have got confused is that there is an alternative payment method on the ringo app which you can do on your phone if the machine is broken.
“75 per cent of people pay with cash so why would we go to a method of payment that people don’t want.
“We’re not going cashless.
“We’re not guilty.”
Machines in the Medway area were broken due to vandalism and other issues according to Medway council but most machines are now said to be working again and accepting cash payments.
Cllr Filmer added: “As of [Wednesday] most machines were working and more reliable ones, that are hopefully vandalism proof, will be fixed over the next few weeks.”