Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins, December 15, 2015

NCP car park, Banbury. NNL-151013-153217009
NCP car park, Banbury. NNL-151013-153217009
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Early in my career as a Lynn News columnist – all five months ago – I wrote about the importance of a well thought out, sensibly-priced parking strategy. My argument was, without parking controls, streets would be chaotic.

I stand by my resolute defence of parking charges. After all, someone has to pay for the upkeep of parking equipment, the painting of lines, payment of traffic wardens, so to my mind, that justifies charging.

However, after some healthy and quite vociferous discussions with readers, I will say there are two things that the parking sector has got fundamentally wrong and, in the interest of good public relations, the powers that be could do immeasurable good if they addressed them.

The first relates to the ruling that you cannot pass your ticket onto another motorist if you do not use your allocated parking time. This is simply a case of the consumer’s rights. If you buy something, it becomes yours. If you buy a cake and don’t eat it all, it is fine to share it round; if you pay for a squash court and wish to share your time slot with a couple of other players, playing a round robin, non-one will rush up and stop you. So why, if you have paid for a three hour parking slot and you find you want to leave after an hour, can you not just pass your paid-for time to someone else? It is surely greed that is driving the ruling that you cannot share tickets. It just means extra money for the same service.

The second point refers to the practice of installing parking machines that do not give change. Now, call me simplistic if you will, but we live in a time where car park technology allows a machine to read your car number plate. Car parks show spaces in real-time; there are apps available that will direct you to the most appropriate car park for your needs; car parking can be paid via a mobile phone, via a contactless card, by an online transaction. So why, oh why, can car park equipment manufacturers not design a machine that gives you change? I repeat my earlier statement – this is essentially extra money for the same service. If everyone who uses the car park pays five pence extra because they don’t have the correct change, you don’t need to be a mathematician to realise that is a healthy dose of extra income.

So come on car park owners, generally we accept that parking charges are a necessity. Now, lets make those charges fair and transparent.