Chippy boss says free parking scheme fails to boost Barking and Dagenham trade
PUBLISHED: 11:40 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:25 27 March 2017
Sebastian Murphy-Bates (Barking and Dagenham post)
Businesses, including the Golden Fish chippy in Dagenham, have opposed the RingGo parking scheme since it was introduced in February last year
A cashless parking scheme has been criticised as a “balls-up” before it’s begun with the council accused of failing to boost trade with its promised 30-minute free stays for shoppers.
The signs warned Dagenham shoppers that cashless parking would be rolled out on March 15 Picture: Jason Aiken
Jason Aiken, who runs the Golden Fish chippy, says customers were caught out by a requirement to punch in registration numbers at the RingGo parking meter in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, to enjoy 30 minutes’ free parking introduced by the council in October last year.
He said on Friday last week (March 17) enforcement officers were waiting in the car park as customers unaware of the new requirement approached and was shocked to find people parking for less than 30 minutes can’t return to park for free for the rest of the day, despite the meter displaying a “no return within two hours” rule.
“It only gives one free ticket per registration per day,” he said. “You can’t return at all, even if you’re only there for 10 minutes.
“This council couldn’t run a bath.”
The RingGo parking meter in Dagenham, which supposed to have no cash option from March 15, with a sign claiming it takes cash and a covering over the coin slot Picture: Jason Aiken
The council had also placed signs on the meter stating it wouldn’t take cash from March 15, despite the borough-wide cashless roll-out being scheduled for the end of March.
But on Tuesday last week (March 21) the council posted a note on the same meter stating it still takes coins, with Jason saying the confusion is stopping shoppers buying from his business, where profits are down about £40,000 in the year since the parking charges were introduced.
“There are two signs on the machine that completely contradict each other,” he said. “The people in the parking department must walk in in the morning and think: ‘How can we really balls things up today? What have we not thought of?’.”
A council spokesman denied enforcement officers were targeting shoppers, apologising for confusion about the cashless roll-out, which is scheduled to start at the end of the month.
“Our enforcement officers do not lie in wait to pounce on drivers – they carry out their responsibilities fairly and without prejudice,” he said. “The original signs stating the March 15 as the commencement date have been removed.
“We apologise for any confusion caused while both signs were present.”
He said the “no return within two hours” rule was for paying parkers, adding drivers “are allowed to park up to a maximum of 30 minutes free at any one time during a 24-hour period”.