‘It’s thieving!’ Portsmouth’s no-change parking charges under fire

A city council parking machine in Cosham High Street
A city council parking machine in Cosham High Street
Rae Bryden, manager at Joules in Gunwharf Quays, who was the Manager of the Year winner and was runner-up in the Fashion Store of the Year category at The News's Retail and Leisure Awards in 2016.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170883-5016)

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Portsmouth City Council has come under fire for its no-change charging policy at council-owned car parks.

Scores of car park users in Portsmouth have spoken of their frustration at losing money because they do not have the exact coins needed to feed into parking machines.

The majority of people who commented on The News Facebook page said the system was unfair, although some suggested that carrying extra change for the machines should not be a major problem.

The city council has defended itself, saying that adding more money into the machines to provide change would leave them vulnerable to theft and criminal damage.

Here are some of the views from The News Facebook page, where readers were asked if it was fair not to receive any change back.

Gordon Whittington said: ‘No, in this age of technology you should get the extra time you have paid for. Just council laziness or fraud depending on your point of view.’

Tracey Harris posted: ‘It’s thieving! Would you accept going into a shop and not getting your change, no, so why accept it for parking?

‘With today’s technology there is no reason to not be able to give change.’

Michaela Slamaker said: ‘They must make thousands of pounds from the extra 20ps etc that’s overpaid due to the machines being unable to give change.’

Tracey Higgins wrote: ‘It’s a total waste of time complaining. Parking in Portsmouth has always been a rip off.’

But Kevin Crockett said: ‘I always overpay in a pay up front car park, then you don’t have to worry if you are a bit late back.

‘If people can afford to run a car they can afford 50p or a pound over the top to park it.’

Karen Copsey commented: ‘It can’t be that difficult to keep some change handy for parking. Unless we bother to make the effort, then we shouldn’t complain when we get ripped-off.’

Viv Chatfield said: ‘No, but if you always keep a few pound coins in a separate purse or in the glove compartment you should be okay.

Alan Cufley, the city council’s director of transport, said: ‘Portsmouth City Council, like many local authorities, use pay and display machines which do not give change.

‘The primary reason why this is the ability of the on-street equipment to be able to hold enough change to satisfy all customers’ needs.

‘In addition, whilst most of our machines are emptied of their takings daily, each one would have to carry a float of around £500 before it receives any payments.

‘This makes them very vulnerable to theft and damage, with any repair costing more to put right than the amount taken.’

Mr Cufley added that machines clearly state that they do not give out change and there are options for people to pay using debit or credit card, and by phone or app.’