Drivers being forced to ditch cash and pay for parking with apps in 'clear case of discrimination'

A parking machine

A number of councils have already ditched pay-and-display machines

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 01/09/2023

- 11:40

Many councils around the UK have already removed pay-and-display machines

One of the UK’s largest motoring organisations is calling on councils across the UK to ensure drivers can still use cash to pay for parking.

Many drivers have slammed councils for removing older parking pay-and-display machines in favour of using parking apps or calling a number to pay for their parking.

Drivers are also concerned that they will have to download a number of different parking applications to be able to pay at various car parks near them.

Further concerns can be seen when looking at the location of car parks, with some drivers potentially not having enough signal to be able to pay for parking.

A parking sign

Many are concerned that they may not have the required signal to pay for parking


Despite the best efforts from parking app companies, motorists are still reporting that they cannot pay for a ticket because of a lack of signal, with dears they could still be fined.

Some car parks are also charging motorists a “convenience fee” surcharge which sees drivers pay extra for using a pay-by-phone option.

Neil Worth, chief executive of GEM Motoring Assist, said that not everyone has a smartphone to be able to pay for parking using a mobile app.

He added: “It is simply not right that parking in our town centres and high streets should be available only to those who do have one.

“It seems a clear case of discrimination against those who cannot – or would rather not – switch to app-based payments.

“Our town centre retailers need all the support they can get in these difficult economic times.”

It is estimated that half of all London councils have removed some or all of their pay-and-display machines, with other major councils like Brighton and Hove doing the same.

Mobile companies are slowly shutting down the 3G connection network, with many councils opting against buying more modern payment machines.

Neil Worth continued, saying: “We understand the need for councils to save money, but they must be careful not to alienate anyone for whom smartphone payments are not possible.

“We urge local authorities to ensure there will always be the option to pay by cash. This helps both shoppers and retailers.”

Drivers are being urged to book their parking in advance if they are travelling to an unfamiliar area as this will remove the hassle of downloading an app where they may not have phone signal.

One motorist told GEM Motoring Assist: “I am 84 years old, live alone in a very rural location and do not have a mobile phone because I cannot get a signal at home.


A parking sign

Many motorists have spoken out about the changes


“I am OK with using my debit card or cash at parking meters. Having only the option of app payment would preclude me from using a car park.”

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