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Introduction: The Drive to Save Costs

Brighton and Hove City Council has initiated the process of removing pay and display parking meters from the city, a move aimed at achieving substantial cost savings. The Council’s decision came in response to the significant budget pressures that arose with the need to convert all parking meters to 4G by early 2023. The Council estimates that it will save approximately £220,000 from the removal of the meters due to reduced cash collection, maintenance, and other expenses.

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Concerns about Digital Exclusion

Despite the potential benefits of the move, concerns about digital exclusion have arisen. Paying for parking will only be possible through the Pay by Phone app, leaving those who are not tech-savvy, particularly older individuals, at risk of exclusion. This concern was raised by Age UK, a charity focused on older people’s needs, who worry that older individuals may experience difficulty parking near shops and other amenities. Age UK’s Director, Caroline Abrahams, expressed concern about the shift away from traditional coin-in-the-slot payment methods that many older people are familiar with. She fears that the removal of pay and display machines is “disastrous for anyone without a smartphone, including millions of older people who are struggling with the shift away from the coin-in-the-slot payment methods they used throughout their lives.”

May 31 Deadline: Council’s Response

The council spokesman responded to these concerns, stating that all pay and display machines would be removed by May 31, 2023. The council advised motorists to download the Pay by Phone app for parking payments. The spokesman further noted that the removal of pay and display parking meters would result in “significant cost savings at a time when all councils are having to address huge financial challenges.” Currently, the Pay by Phone app and telephone number account for 78% of all on-street parking transactions in Brighton and Hove, with 22% made using the machines. Only 2% of transactions are made using cash. Individuals who lack access to the Pay by Phone app but have a debit or credit card can still pay by calling a telephone number. Additionally, parking can still be purchased in-person from one of the more than 150 Paypoint vendors located throughout the city.

Opposition and Discrimination Claims

However, some local opposition has emerged concerning the removal of the pay and display machines. Patcham councillor Carol Theobald has alleged that the move discriminates against older residents. Theobald claims that there was no genuine consultation, expressing disbelief that the plan is moving forward. The councillor further stated concern about residents and visitors who have not downloaded the app, as they may not know how to do so. She argues that this move unfairly targets senior citizens, who may be upset, unsure about what to do or where to park, and may instead choose to visit nearby cities like Eastbourne or Worthing.

Conclusion: Balancing Cost Savings and Inclusivity

The removal of pay and display parking meters in Brighton and Hove by the City Council raises concerns about digital exclusion for those who are less tech-savvy, particularly older individuals. However, the council argues that the move will lead to significant cost savings, with the Pay by Phone app and telephone number accounting for the majority of on-street parking transactions in the city. Ultimately, the council must balance the need for cost savings with the need to ensure inclusivity for all citizens.

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Hi I'm Oliver Smith, I would say that I take great pride in my work as a journalist and strive to produce high-quality, impactful stories that make a difference. With more than eight years of experience under my belt, I am passionate about uncovering the truth and shining a light on issues that matter.


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