MOTORISTS in Sheffield are being overcharged - by parking meter prices ending in 5p and 10p for machines that do not accept new five or 10p coins, or give change.
Drivers are being forced to pay over the odds at many of the 200 meters in the city centre.
Machines off Division Street now charge £1.55 per hour, or £3.10 for two hours. Meters on Hartshead charge 65p for 30 minutes, and £1.25 for an hour.
But none accepts the new-style five or 10p pieces which have been in circulation since the start of the year, and none of the machines gives change.
For a typical £1.25 ticket, motorists without old-style coins would need to use a £1 and two 20p pieces - a total of £1.40 - handing the council a profit of 15 pence.
Angry motorist Edley Whitham, a 65-year-old businessman from High Green, fumed: “I think it’s disgusting. How many hundreds of people are being fleeced in this way every day?
“I am not being penny-pinching - it is the principle of it.”
Today Sheffield Council admitted the issue could go on for another 18 months - as its pay-and-display machines are being updated only slowly to accept new-style coins or give change.
Budget cuts mean the council may not complete the £75,000 conversion of all its machines before 2014.
But Mr Whitham - who was forced to overpay when he parked off Division Street - demanded: “Why doesn’t the council change its fees instead, so it is easier to pay without five or 10p pieces?”
Rob Prior, a member of the Sheffield Motorists’ Forum, said: “Everyone is fleecing motorists these days. The council would be better not spending the £75,000 changing the meters, but altering the charges so they are in multiples of 20p as soon as possible.”
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, opposition Liberal Democrat leader on the council, agreed: “A review of the situation is needed urgently. We shouldn’t be fleecing motorists and a problem like this is likely to deter people from the city centre at a time when we are struggling to attract shoppers.”
A council spokesman said: “We have put information on the machines to indicate that the new style 5p and 10p coins are not accepted.
“We do provide other means of payment including payment by mobile phone in the city centre, and we may also review the tariffs to see if we can make them in multiples of 20p rather than 10p or 5p.”
He said the council was unable to reveal the profit it has made in overpayments.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a means of calculating any overpayments paid into the machines,” he said. “But there are still far more old 5p and 10p coins in circulation than the new ones.
“Our officers always give a five-minute observation time before a penalty notice is issued for not displaying a ticket, so people have the opportunity to get change if they find themselves only with a new-type coin.”