Wiltshire Council unrepentant at being branded worst for short-changing motorists (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Wiltshire Council unrepentant at being branded worst for short-changing motorists
Wiltshire Council deputy leader John Thomson is unrepentant after the authority was branded the worst culprit in the country for short changing motorists who use its car parks.
A nationwide survery has revealed that Wiltshire made an extra £730,000 from car park fees over three years as none of its machines give change.
Latest figures for 2012/13 saw Wiltshire still top with a £250,000 over-vend, Tunbridge Wells second, making an extra £94,000, followed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in Suffolk which made £83,000.
A freedom of information request by the Daily Mirror tried to survey all 348 local authorities in England and Wales but only 79 responded.
Mr Thomson, the cabinet member for highways, said this showed that the investigation was flawed and also pointed to the fact that most of the councils that responded were small district councils with far fewer car parks than Wiltshire.
He said: “If you look at the figures from a per centage point of view we are not so different to the others.”
He said it would cost Wiltshire £2.5m to replace the existing machines with ones that give change and cost an extra £633,000 to run as they would have to be serviced several times a day to make sure they had the right change available.
To solve the problem Mr Thomson wants all ticket machines removed from every car park in Wiltshire next year but that does not mean motorists will not have to pay.
Instead of putting money in a slot to get a ticket drivers would use their smart phones to pay and save the council millions of pounds.
He said: “I believe the vast majority of motorists would be happy to use this method if they thought it meant that parking charges could come down.
“This way they would not have to rush back from shopping before their ticket ran out, pay for time they have not used or pay extra because the machine does not give change.
“Of course we realise that not everyone wants to embrace new technology in this way and so we would have to come to an arrangement with nearby shops so they could help people do this.”
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