Cllr Danny Chalkley, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport on Westminster Council says cashless parking is the wave of the future. He responds to criticism of the policy from contributors to this site last week.
One of the central criticisms of Westminster Council cashless parking with the removal of the last parking meter relates to social inclusion. But cashless parking comprises three forms of payment
1. Pay by Phone, either text or voice transaction.
2. Credit card. All locations have a credit card based pay & display machine in the vicinity.
3. Parking cards. These are available in Westminster's one stop shops and libraries for those that prefer to pay cash and in recognition that a minority of people do not have a mobile phone or credit card. These will shortly be available on line too.
To reiterate, pay by phone is NOT the only form of payment as some comments on the earlier blog suggest. Cash and credit card payments are not excluded.
Westminster Council has been removing its 4,400 parking meters over the last two and a half years in favour of cashless parking. This is an innovation that has won awards. It is no coincidence that many other local authorities are now looking at various forms of cashless parking.
Cashless parking was trialled in Westminster in October 2006 and in early 2007 the decision was taken to extend cashless parking city wide. One of the primary drivers was the estimated £120,000 per week being lost to organised crime. Organised crime which led to murder on the streets of Westminster.
In addition, the cost of collecting cash was £600k of council tax payers money. This ignores the huge costs of maintaining 4,400 ageing and out of date meters.
Cashless parking is now generating an estimated £8-9m per year for the Westminster council tax payer just by preventing theft. This should be applauded.
It is true that the registration process for pay by phone does take a few minutes and is best undertaken online in advance. However, those that have used the pay by phone typically come to recognise the convenience.
It is also true that cashless parking attracted criticism during the early trial days. However, we have refined cashless parking to accommodate these reasonable points e.g.. removal of the service charge, use of parking cards, availability of telephony registration process etc.
Complaint levels for cashless parking are very low.