Pennies pinched by a Sheffield parking problem

Meters on Cambridge Street,showing thatthey do nate take the new coins
Meters on Cambridge Street,showing thatthey do nate take the new coins
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NEWLY-issued coins are causing a headache for motorists in Sheffield - because council-owned parking meters cannot accept them.

Stickers are being placed on several hundred machines around the city telling drivers they will not be able to use the new 5p and 10p coins which have started to be issued until modifications are made.

Sheffield Council says it must now find £70,000 from its highways budget to cover the cost of making changes to the meters so they can accept the cash.

The bill is also expected to run into tens of thousands of pounds for neighbouring councils including Barnsley, Rotherham and Chesterfield which have extensive numbers of meters.

Coun Leigh Brammall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport, said: “The new coins are being introduced to save £8 million a year, because they are cheaper to manufacture.

“However, their introduction means ourselves and other councils are facing an unexpected bill.

“We have not been offered any money by the Government to cover the cost of changes and it is money we do not have.

“We are putting stickers on machines to inform drivers about the problem until we have decided how to fund the modifications and carried out the work.”

The 5p and 10p coins issued since the start of the year have changed from a cupro-nickel alloy to nickel-plated steel. While retaining the same weight and diameter, they are marginally thicker than the current coins in circulation.

The Local Government Association for England and Wales estimates the change will cost councils across the country a total of £5.5 million.

And vending machine companies have warned the new coins could cost the industry £100m in recalibrating machines to recognise both the old and new 5p and 10p pieces.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “This decision is expected to deliver significant savings for HM Treasury, which are estimated to be £7 million to £8 million per year, in relation to expenditure on metals.

“A trend of rising metal prices over recent years has meant the continued use of cupro-nickel is likely to become increasingly expensive.”

He said the government had consulted before deciding on the change and the introduction of the new coins had been delayed to allow industry - including local councils - time to prepare.

He said: “We also anticipate it will take many months for the new coins to reach significant circulation levels, giving extra time to adapt or replace machines and substantially reduce costs.”