Cashless parking trial

A CASHLESS parking trial in Stonehaven’s Market Square could be extended despite only 58 people using the service over a six month period.

Aberdeenshire Council had been carrying out a six month trial which gave drivers the opportunity to pay for parking with their mobile phones.

The local authority hopes to use cashless parking alongside traditional pay and display machines in future to save money. However during the trial only 108 transactions were recorded – but the authority is happy that the technology works and said it received positive feedback from those who did use it.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee had been unsure of how well the public would take to the new method, and this week Councillor Carl Nelson branded the pilot scheme “disastrous”.

He added: “Only 58 people used the service overall, and month on moth during thr trial the figure continued to fall. The numbers using it and the income generated during the trial seem a disaster. You are giving people a choice, which is something, but I certainly wouldn’t support this.”

The committee were assured that there are no plans to remove cash parking machines in the forseeable future. Strategy Manager Mark Skilling told members on Tuesday that technically the new system was working. He added: “I am convinced that cashless parking is a system that will become standard in the UK in time.”

Councillor Peter Bellarby said: “It works technically but only 58 motorists have used it, which suggests the trial was not successful. While I am happy that motorists are given the opportunity to use this option and make use of up to date technology, I am totally opposed to a system that uses this method of payment exclusively.

“Cash machines are simple to operate and better for tourists, especially those from overseas.”

Councillor Wendy Agnew suggested that returning to free parking at the Market Square would be beneficial to businesses, tourists and locals, but Mr Skilling said that charges had been introduced to deter people from taking up the spaces by parking there all day.

Councillor George Carr agreed with the council’s stance that the scheme has a future. He said: “This is a new scheme tat has been piloted. I do agree that this is the future and it has the potential to be taken up as time goes on. I think it would be premature to pull the plug at the moment, it may be that it needs to be publicised and marketed more.”

Area manager Willie Munro added: “The technology has worked well but the take up has been extremely low, which suggests it is very early days with this.”