We won’t change overcharging parking meters - says Sheffield Council

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SHEFFIELD Council officials are taking no immediate action over parking meters which overcharge - and say it is drivers’ responsibility to have the correct change.

Motorists have accused the authority of ‘fleecing’ drivers over city centre meters which have charges ending in five or 10p, but do not take new-style coins in the same denominations.

People have to pay more than the required amount in order to receive a pay and display ticket - but receive no change and the council is keeping the excess cash.

The council is spending £70,000 to update about 200 parking meters over the next 18 months so they can accept the new coins, which were introduced at the start of this year after the change was first revealed in 2010.

However, only 22 meters will be updated by next March and the remainder will take a further 12 months.

Council chiefs will not change parking charges in the meantime to make it easier for motorists to pay the exact amount.

The council has also not revealed how much extra cash it has made from overpayments at parking meters.

High Green businessman Edley Whitham, aged 65, has accused the council of ‘fleecing’ drivers out of their change and called for parking fees to be changed to make it easier to pay without five or 10 pence pieces.

Len Hadfield, of Ecclesall, a member of the Sheffield branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “It’s not motorists’ faults that the machines haven’t been updated to take the coins.

“If the council wants to have parking meters, they should be easy for people to use. What happens to the extra money is difficult. The council should not have it in the first place, but it should be spent on things that benefit motorists.

“Flashing speeding indicator devices would be a good idea.”

John Bann, head of highways at the council, said: “City centre parking charges ending in five or 10p have occurred because of us making slight increases over the years.

“The last increase was in April 2011 and it happened before the new coins were introduced.

“Machines do not give change because of security issues - I am not aware of any on-street pay and display machines that do.

“Motorists should carry the correct change. I always make sure I have the correct change before I set out if I know I am going to be parking on the street.

“We are updating the machines as quickly as possible, but if we were to change the parking fees we would be accused of putting them up as an excuse to make money.”

The council cannot reduce fees because of the pressure on finances due to spending cuts, Mr Bann said.

Mr Bann said the council no longer credits extra time on parking tickets to the value of any overpayment.

Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member responsible for transport, said: “We cannot make any commitment about giving the money from overpayment at parking meters to charity. It would go on things like road safety schemes.”

The council said it is updating 22 of the parking meters to take the new coins by March and the remainder in the 2013/14 financial year.

n The older five pence coins are made of an alloy of copper and nickel, but were changed in a money-saving measure by the Treasury due to the rising cost of copper. They are now made of nickel-plated steel and although both coins weigh the same, the new coins are marginally thicker.