Hartlepool launches first ‘cashless’ parking machines to tackle vandalism

The car park in Murray Street

The car park in Murray Street

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Council chiefs have made a Hartlepool car park the first in town where drivers can pay only by mobile phone after damage caused by vandalism.

The pay and display machine in Murray Street has been subjected to repeated attempts to steal cash.

The sign explaining how to pay by phone

The sign explaining how to pay by phone

None have been successful but council parking bosses say they have had enough.

From now all drivers who use the 30 space car park must pay using their mobile phone.

A number of car parks across town offer the option of paying by phone should drivers be short of cash but this is the first mobile only site in town.

The first 30 minutes remains free before having to pay to park.

Phil Hepburn, parking services manager at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We have taken this step due to vandalism of the ticket machine and attempts to steal the money inside.

“Fortunately, no money has ever been taken but we are not prepared to tolerate this situation any longer.

“As a result, we have decided to trial the car park as a cashless payment site. Drivers can still park free for 30 minutes but after that any payment has to be made via a mobile phone.”

Drivers can download a payment app or register and open an account at www.RingGo.co.uk

Once registered, drivers enter the unique code for the site to park as normal.

Drivers do not need to display a parking ticket but the council is warning that any drivers who fail to pay to park will still be served with a £70 Penalty Charge Notice.

An information board explaining the process for registering and making a cashless payment has been erected on site.

Phil Hepburn added: “A cashless payment option for car park users was first introduced in Hartlepool by the council in 2009 and since then it has become a popular means of payment.

“Murray Street, however, is our first completely cashless site.”

Businesses the Mail spoke to about the new parking arrangements do not think it will harm trade.

In addition to the car park there are numerous parking bays in Murray Street where drivers can park for free for 30 minutes.

Lucy Wallace, of Lucy Jane Hairdressing, close to the car park, said: “I hope it won’t affect business. We do get a lot of young women so a lot of my clients have already used that payment system in the past, maybe in Middlesbrough or other places.

“A couple of people have asked if they have to pay by mobile so as long as people know to do it hopefully it will be ok.

“We have still got the laybys so people wanting a blow dry will probably just use them.”

Jim Facchini, owner of Facchini’s Cycles, was also not unduly concerned.

He said: “I have been here for 50 years and don’t think it will make that much difference really.

“It might upset one or two people but don’t think it will affect me largely.

“We have still got the free parking so you don’t always need to use the car park.”