By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH COUNCIL have confirmed that pay-and-display machines will be switched off across the town’s car parks before being removed; with drivers required to start using their mobile phone device for payments instead and councillors stating this move will save thousands of pounds in public money over time.
This project will begin in May and it is due to be broken into phrases across the borough, with the short-stay town centre car parks set to be first in line for mobile-only payments. This includes those parking facilities at Coates Park, Coates Road, Church Path, South Street, Minnitt Road South, North Cross Street, and others.
It is calculated that twenty-nine machines will be switched off across the project with its other phrases due to begin from July onwards; the full list being available here. Nine will however remain in place at Walpole Park (two machines), Pebble Beach, Gilkicker, No.2 Battery West, Beach Road, Marine Parade, and Alver Valley.
Drivers will be asked to use MiPermit to pay parking charges instead of the current methods; this mobile-only platform already in place in council car parks. This gives the options of paying via text, QR codes, automated phone line, smartphone app, or via this website; whilst payments can be made by speaking to their assistant.
Free one-hour parking rules will still apply in short-stay car parks with the council saying public money will be saved in the process; particularly as they are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate. The machines may further need costly upgrades as they currently rely on 3G signals; which is being phrased out.
But this move could have a big impact on vulnerable and elderly adults visiting Gosport’s car parks, including those who don’t have access to a mobile device for a number of reasons. Questions will also be asked about the need for a 10p service charge for every transaction through MiPermit, meaning local residents could stop using the area as normal with household and essential bills continuing to rise through the cost of living crisis.
Councillor Peter Chegwyn, Leader of the Council, added his personal thoughts as he said: “Many people are already using MiPermit. You can choose the most convenient payment method for you, and there’s no need to worry about having the correct change, dealing with paper tickets, or struggling with faulty machines. You can even extend your (parking) stay without returning to your car (or visiting any of our payment machines).”
He continued: “I’ve paid for parking on my mobile and found it straightforward. If I can do it, anyone can! And if you do need a bit of help, you can speak to an MiPermit assistant. I appreciate that for many people, it is a change. But in the current financial climate we need to save taxpayers’ money wherever we can, and this will save council taxpayers about £30000 every year. We want to concentrate our spending on our priorities such as improving the (whole) town centre, protecting public services and investing in a cleaner greener Gosport.”
For any more information residents can contact MiPermit directly by calling 0345 520 7007; whilst the council Streetscene team can be accessed by either emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 08000 198598.
PICTURED BY CONNOR STEEL: Mumby Road will join other car parks to switch off pay machines in 2023.