‘It’s ageist’: Parking row sees elderly drivers demand to use cash not apps
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PENSIONERS in Kent are furious at a council’s move to an app-only system for parking. The changes by Canterbury City Council means drivers now need the RingGo parking app to park in several council car parks.
The measures have now sparked a national debate on whether older drivers should have the nous to use parking apps, or if they should have the option to use cash instead.
Drivers do have the additional option to phone up to pay, but some are frustrated that they are being forced to embrace the new technology.
Shelia Miller, 74, runs a local swimming group and regularly needs to use one of the car parks in question.
She said: “It’s ageist and absolutely discriminatory against the elderly.
“We can’t plead poverty as we can afford cars and drive. It’s just that many of the elderly do not have a smartphone, or know how to use RingGo.”
“You need to be able to register with RingGo or download the app – but many in my group have found this impossible, and some do not know what an app is.
“Putting in bank details on a mobile can be scary for the older generation, as they are afraid of scams.”
Another swimmer, Helen Nattrass added: “RingGo is ridiculous as it overcharged me. It’s so difficult to use. We’re all from the district yet we get treated like tourists.”
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The row reached national radio as BBC host Jeremy Vine raised the question of parking payment options on his show.
Former councillor Brian Coleman told Mr Vine that the elderly needed to keep up with the times.
He said: “Frankly, these older folk are driving a car which can be a very dangerous piece of machinery.
“Surely they can operate an app on a mobile phone.
“I’m happy to come down to Kent to run a session on how to download the app onto people’s phones. It makes life simple.”
A poll run by a local paper saw 87 percent of 2,800 people in favour of still having a cash option at car parks.
And social media users were keen to have their say on the story, with one writing on facebook that: “RingGo is so convenient though. Who still carries loose change around these days? I couldn’t tell you the last time I used cash.”
But another argued: “There’s nothing safer than standing in a dark or isolated car park with your phone, wallet and credit card in your hand, trying to pay a £1.50 parking fee.
“My bank actually blocked my card the other week because their fraud team thought me paying to park in Folkestone was unusual.”
Some car park signs in the area have even been vandalised following the changes.
Council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: “While we understand the fact the imposition of new parking charges is never popular, the money generated helps pay for the vital frontline services the council provides to those who desperately need our help.
“Repeatedly defacing the signs at Faversham Road with graffiti is puerile, a bit pathetic and a clear case of criminal damage should the perpetrator get caught.
“People without a mobile phone can call 01227 802804 and pay before they leave home.”
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