Published: 06:00, 21 September 2021
| Updated: 16:06, 21 September 2021
Residents in a Kent town have hit out at plans to introduce cashless parking – while visitors struggle with broken meters.
Furious Tenterden locals fear that Ashford Borough Council's plans to bring in new machines that only accept card or app payments will drive visitors and trade away from the town.
Tenterden shoppers share frustration as town centre car parks refuse cash payments
The council are reportedly advancing with plans to introduce the cashless meters across the district within the next 18 months.
These machines will only accept payment via card, contactless payment, or the RingGo app
Sue Ferguson said she is "absolutely furious" at the current situation.
"I'm beside myself, I really am, it's impossible to get a ticket from so many machines in town," she said.
"The machines are not accepting cash, the card slot is not always working, contactless is variable (most of the time it doesn't work) and there is rubbish signal for the RingGo app.
"I spent about 45 minutes observing various machines in town; no-one managed to get a ticket from the upper level of Recreation Ground Road car park, a couple of people managed contactless at one of the lower level machines, one machine had a bag over it, the Leisure Centre car park is not accepting cash - but you get your refund in cash!
"I spoke to visitors who said they were not staying in Tenterden this morning and were going elsewhere. People were confused, angry, upset, irritated, perplexed at the situation."
The chaos caused by the malfunctioning machines has sparked fears that a cashless future will be fatal for the town's High Street.
"Tenterden is a tourist town - we need to cater for tourists not frighten them away," said Mrs Ferguson.
"A lot of elderly residents will not want to use their card, and they won't be able to use RingGo.
"This is not to mention the fact that it costs you 20p more to use that app – from what I've heard some councils have made a deal so that it doesn't cost any more to use the app but clearly not here!
"I worry that the extra charge will mean everyone wanting to park will get absolutely fleeced."
A number of councils across the country who use RingGo do so with no convenience fee, while some Kent councils – including Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council – have opted to reduce it.
A Tenterden Town spokesman confirmed that the council had raised the issue of broken machines with Ashford council.
When approached by KentOnline yesterday, an ABC spokesperson said: “A few parking payment machines in Tenterden are currently unable to take cash payments. The issue is being resolved and the machines will be back as normal by the close of play today (Monday).
“Visitors to all our car parks also have the option to download the RingGo app or call the number displayed on our notices (01233 380090) to pay by card.
"There are numerous benefits to using these payment methods which include; a quick, secure payment option, no need to search around for coins, paying for your parking from the comfort of your car, no need to visit and touch a pay machine, and helping the environment as there is no need to get a pay and display ticket to put in your windscreen.
“We are aware that demand from our residents and visitors for cashless parking payment methods has increased, particularly during this past year. As such we are keen to ensure that we respond to this demand through offering options such as the RingGo app.
“We apologise for any inconvenience to our customers associated with the temporary cash problem that affected a few of our payment terminals.”