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Pay and dismay – residents' anger at 'retrograde' parking machines being installed in Maidenhead car park

Drivers have reacted angrily to the news that a multi-storey car park in the town centre is to become pay and display – just three years after £240,000 was spent on new machines.

The Nicholsons car park in Broadway will introduce the new payment system on Monday, in line with parking machines being installed in all car parks across the borough.

This is despite the fact that the Nicholsons car park is due to be demolished in about two years.

According to council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside), the change is because the current machines are susceptible to fraud.

But Cllr Claire Stretton (TBF, Boyn Hill), called the decision a ‘retrograde step’.

She said: “Parking machines, in general, are a bit of a mess. This is a knee-jerk reaction. I have no idea why so much money has been spent on this wretched car park.”

Previous payment systems at the car park have been plagued by problems. In 2016, £240,000 was spent on the chip coin system, which was introduced to replace a previous system, installed in 2012, which cost £120,000 and which allowed motorists to park without paying.

The chip coin system experienced a host of teething problems after it was initially introduced. Drivers complained about barriers not lifting, number plates not being recognised and card payment problems.

It has not been confirmed how much the new pay and display machines at Broadway will cost, but £750,000 has been spent bringing them to every car park in the borough.

The Nicholsons car park used to have pay and display machines until 2012, when they were scrapped following an Advertiser-backed campaign.

Residents reacted angrily to the news of their reintroduction on social media. Melanie Campbell wrote on Facebook: “This makes me furious. Who makes these decisions? What is the rationale behind such significant investment yet again whilst the town centre is currently dying on its behind?”

Emily Grace Peters said: “I only park in this car park because then I don’t have to watch the clock.”

Cllr Dudley said he was sympathetic to people’s frustration when it came to the car park.

He said: “I can understand some of the complaints here because this car park has had a chequered history in terms of machines.

“I understand residents asking what is going on here.

“This is happening because the old machines are susceptible to fraud, which is costing the tax payer money.”

He said that, this time, drivers will be able to top up their parking on their mobile phones, so they will not have to dash back to the car if they want to stay longer in the town.

The top-up system does not yet provide Advantage Card discounts but Cllr Dudley said the Royal Borough is designing a mobile phone app to rectify that.

For the first month after the changes are introduced, parking attendants will be on hand to assist people with the new machines, he said.

Cllr Dudley added that the Nicholsons multi-storey will not be demolished for ‘at least’ two years. When it is rebuilt, a new ‘state-of-the-art’ ticketing system will be included, he said.

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