Motorists won’t get change if they overpay at one of West Norfolk Council’s parking meters, because the technology doesn’t exist to give it to them, a meeting has been told.
Senior members and officers have defended the authority’s handling of the issue, dismissing suggestions that the public are being shortchanged.
Last month, the Taxpayers’ Alliance criticised the council for obtaining almost £70,000 in extra revenue from overpayment at parking meters, more than any other in East Anglia.
But a meeting of the council’s corporate performance panel on Wednesday was told that was less money per space than other councils with much smaller totals.
And leader Brian Long said: “If we were putting it into a slush fund for the leader to have a Lear jet, that would be something for the press to have a field day with.
“We’re using it to improve services in West Norfolk.”
The issue was raised at the meeting by Labour group leader John Collop under a new rule which allow opposition parties to place an item on all panel agendas.
The measure was introduced as part of a series of reforms intended to improve scrutiny of council decisions.
Mr Collop said: “I think it can be detrimental to what we stand for when people come to King’s Lynn and they see they put money in the machines and they dont give change.
“That may seem small to some people but to me, to visitors, it seems something that’s not right.”
But those comments came after officers explained there was currently no pay and display machine on the market that does give change and no prospect of one being developed.
The meeting also heard that replacing the machines will cost between £6,000 and £8,000 each.
Around 60 pay and display machines are currently in use in council-operated car parks and are set to be replaced gradually between 2020 and 2023.
Kathy Mellish, portfolio holder for human resources, facilities and shared services, said: “We’re not taking money away from the public.
“If we decide to change all the machines now, it’s going to cost ratepayers a huge amount that will have to go on council tax and I’m not voting for that.”
But Tory committee member Andrew Morrison said: “It is clearly inequitable and I think it’s right to bring it up so we don’t forget.
“I congratulate him (Mr Collop) for bringing it up. I don’t agree with what he says but he’s done the right thing in discussing it.