Elderly people excluded by phasing out of pay-as-you-go parking meters, warn MPs

·2-min read
Some meters require a smartphone in order to pay
Some meters require a smartphone in order to pay

Elderly drivers are becoming increasingly excluded from being able to park without being fined due to the phasing out of pay-as-you-go meters, a group of MPs have warned.

Clive Betts, chair of the Department for Levelling Up Select Committee, said that the removal of physical pay-as-you-go parking machines posed difficulties for elderly people who did not have smartphones.

The comments come as a number of councils have revealed that they are looking to totally end the use of pay-as-you-go meters, meaning the only way you can pay for a space will be through an app.

The Sunday Times recently reported that councils like the London Borough of Bromley and Brighton were looking to remove their machines, while Richmond, Merton and Barking and Dagenham had also removed machines.

Mr Betts said: “There have been accounts of motorists being, in effect, digitally excluded as local authorities phase out pay-as-you-go parking meters due to 3G networks being switched off by mobile operators.

“People shouldn’t be left to wrestle with countless apps to pay a parking charge or risk a fine when they aren’t able to navigate theapp successfully.

“These developments pose particular difficulties for elderly or vulnerable motorists who may not have a smartphone, or who may struggle to use apps if they do.”

It comes as a survey by YouGov, reveals that nearly half of all people had visited places where cash was discouraged or not accepted. The survey found that 45 per cent of respondents across an eight week period, with London the worst place for this.

Car parks were listed in the places where people had been unable to pay with coins or banknotes, alongside cafes and restaurants.

To put pressure on the government, Mr Betts has now written to roads minister Richard Holden and minister for housing and planning Rachel Maclean, calling for assurances that motorists who do not have smartphones or park in areas with poor signal can pay for tickets.

He also demanded the government urgently publish its Private Parking Enforcement Framework, which has been under review since last year, while also asking for more details on the planned National Parking Platform.

The framework was initially launched in February 2022 and looked to cap fines to £50 from £100 in private parking areas, but was withdrawn in July last year after private parking firms launched a legal challenge against the proposals.

The National Parking Platform is a DfT initiative which aims to make parking easier for drivers by having a central hub where drivers can pay parking fees through one platform, rather than drivers having to download multiple apps. It is currently being piloted in Manchester and Oxford.

Mr Betts said he said the committee wanted to see an evaluation of the pilot to assess its success so far.

The DLUHC has been contacted for comment.