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Switch decision was prompted by theft of pay and display cash machine

Typed signs on the pay and display boards like this one in Victoria Street declared the new machines were to be installed on June 11. (140618SG-5)
Typed signs on the pay and display boards like this one in Victoria Street declared the new machines were to be installed on June 11. (140618SG-5)

It could be another six months before Spalding goes cashless in most of its council run car parks.

On Friday - the second date given for card and phone-pay machines going live - South Holland District Council put out a statement saying the installation was "on hold while we talk with users to make sure that we are providing the best service possible to those looking to park in the town".

Council portfolio holder for place Roger Gambba-Jones told the Spalding Guardian there will be an eight week consultation, followed by an analysis of residents' responses, and it's likely to be six months before any new machines go in.

Texts sent to a radio station blamed the apparent last-minute change of heart on the council realising it hadn't followed a legal process on consultation, but Coun Gambba-Jones says that isn't the case.

He says there is no legal requirement to consult on switching the machines but, because the council had received feedback on the plan, the decision was taken to have a formal consultation so everyone had the chance to have a say.

Coun Gambba-Jones says the decision to switch to phone and card pay parking in all but two car parks was forced on the council by "a criminal act", the theft of the Vine Street car park cash machine just after Christmas.

The pay and display machine still hasn't been replaced and he says the bill for that theft alone will run into tens of thousands for council tax payers, with the loss of the machine itself, damage to power and data connections and loss of revenue.

The council has already bought the new machines and originally planned to have them go live on June 11 but that was pushed back to June 22.

The council planned to go cashless in all but Herring Lane and Victoria Street car parks, where cash options would be retained.

Although the machines have been bought, the outcome of the consultation could see a different mix.

Some residents are welcoming the step while others criticised a proposed 20p extra charge for phone payments or expressed fears about cards being cloned.

Coun Gambba-Jones says parking is a difficult area for councils.

"Everybody thinks car parks coin it in for councils," he said. "They don't even pay their own way."

Previously ...

Delay in Spalding's new pay and display parking machines

Spalding's parking switch fiasco

Free parking at Spalding site after ticket machine stolen

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