EXCLUSIVE Don’t force the elderly to use parking apps: Gove advocates for local authorities to keep meters
Councilors must not discriminate against older people by forcing motorists to use smartphones to pay for parking, Michael Gove has warned.
In a letter to all local authorities in England, the Leveling Up Secretary said he was concerned that the elderly and vulnerable would be left out if traditional pay-and-display machines were scrapped.
His intervention comes after the Mail revealed that more than two million motorists will soon be living in “parking meter deserts”.
Increasingly, vending machines are being scrapped in favor of cashless options like mobile apps.
But Mr Gove said town halls have a responsibility to ensure they “do not discriminate against older people or those with vulnerabilities in their decision-making”.
Michael Gove speaks during a statement on the “convened planning decision” following approval of a new coal mine in the House of Commons in London December 8, 2022
In a letter to council leaders seen by the Mail, the cabinet minister wrote: “Cash remains legal tender and continues to be used in our daily lives by people who prefer its accessibility and ease.
“I am therefore concerned that local authorities should ensure that there are alternative parking fee schemes in place so that no section of society becomes digitally excluded.
“This is of course important for many areas in order to maintain the accessibility of our main streets and city centers for the general public.”
He said it would not be appropriate for high street parking “to be available only to those who have access to a mobile phone”.
Councils should also not replace paper-based parking options such as “scratch cards” when the only replacement available is a fully digital option, Mr Gove said.
A survey commissioned by the Mail and published this week found that more than half of over-65s don’t feel like using parking apps like RingGo and PayByPhone.
Four out of ten respondents of all ages said they would be discouraged from going downtown where there are no parking meters.
Pay-and-display advice machines are already a thing of the past in parts of London, including Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Barking and Dagenham, an audit by Mail has found.
And by the end of next month meters will be gone from Enfield, Bromley and Brighton and Hove.
Harrow is converting to a ‘Cashlite’ system and has now shut down most of its machines. Slough plans to scrap some this year.
Elsewhere, half a dozen councils confirmed their counts had been reduced – with further cuts in Ealing. In 2016 West London City Council had 196 machines, but by the end of this year there will be just 60.
Charities such as AgeUK warned that the end of paid parking would be “disastrous for anyone without a smartphone”.
And the British Independent Retailers Association warned of the impact on the high street, calling parking apps a “barrier for many motorists”.
Parking meters are disappearing from UK roads as operators favor smartphone applications
Mr Gove said the Government has recognized that digital payments for parking can offer a “more convenient, efficient and secure way of paying for the public and can help local authorities reduce costs and raise standards”.
He also acknowledged that some local authorities have reported the extent of fraud attempts related to payment machines.
But he said: “However, all local authorities have existing legal obligations to ensure that they do not discriminate against older or vulnerable people in their decision-making.”
A Government source said: “Councils have a duty to their residents, particularly elderly or vulnerable motorists, to ensure they do not cut them off from local businesses on our valuable highways.”
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/celebrity/exclusive-dont-force-elderly-to-use-parking-apps-gove-pleads-with-councils-to-keep-meters/ EXCLUSIVE Don’t force the elderly to use parking apps: Gove advocates for local authorities to keep meters