Final Greater Manchester council agrees to scrap most cash-only parking meters

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Tameside is the only borough in Greater Manchester where parking machines currently only accept cash.

Cash-only pay and display parking machines across Tameside are to be upgraded to allow people to pay by card and contactless.

Members of the executive cabinet have agreed to spend £71,450 to upgrade 27 machines at council-owned car parks in the borough in a bid to make them more attractive for visitors and shoppers. Tameside is the only borough in Greater Manchester where parking machines currently only accept cash.

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A pilot of a parking app which was introduced in Ashton-under-Lyne in 2018 was scrapped less than a year later after businesses claimed it had caused the worst drop in town centre trade ‘since the financial crash’.

The council runs 44 car parks across the borough, with 53 pay and display machines. However, a report to cabinet states that the ‘poor customer experience’ of cash-only machines has a ‘detrimental effect on the borough’s reputation’ and its ability to run an ‘effective business’.

Officers state: “Use of town centres is now returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, our car parks have not kept up-to date with the needs and expectations of residents and business users. In particular, it is not currently possible to pay for parking with either contactless payment cards or mobile phones.”

As part of the initial phase of improving infrastructure and operating systems, the council has agreed to upgrade 17 machines, and replace 10 as they are too old to be upgraded. It will still be possible to pay with cash at machines going forward.

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The move was welcomed by councillors, who said it would allow shoppers to park more easily and support strategies for the regeneration of the borough’s town centres.

Councillor Jan Jackson, the cabinet member for planning, transport and connectivity said: “We do recognise and accept that car parks are a revenue, they bring money back into the authority.

“We do need to look at modernising our car park service. We have to make our car parks more sustainable going forward and this will assist with that.”

She added: “Car parks are always a bone of contention as we all know in our town centres, from members of the public, and particularly elected members. We get an awful lot of backlash.

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“As we know it’s a talking point among businesses and traders in town centres if the price goes up even a small amount, 50p, then traders and businesses always use it as an excuse and a scapegoat to say there is a reduction of footfall in the town centres.

“Tameside, it’s important to note, has the lowest tariff in Greater Manchester and this is why we’re looking at a strategy going forward.”

Although there will be a transaction cost from accepting card payments, the authority anticipates that this will be covered by additional money generated by the machines going forward. The cost of the upgrades will come from the council vehicle replacement reserve, with pay-back over four years, the cabinet meeting was told.

The future of the remaining 26 machines in council-owned car parks will be looked at as part of a wider review by the authority.

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“This enables the council to make urgent high-priority improvements in the most cost-effective manner, and recognises the fact that more substantial changes in land usage may affect the future use of these 26 car parks,” the report adds.

The car parks with machines that will be able to accept card and contactless payments will be mostly in Ashton, but with one in Denton, one in Droylsden, two in Hyde and two in Stalybridge.

They are at:

Henrietta Street

Ashton Baths, Water Street

Old Cross Street

Darnton Road

Old Street

Camp Street

Fleet Street 1

Fleet Street 2

Hodgson Street

Darnton Road 2

Darnton Road 3

St Peter’s Street

Mellor Road

Welbeck Street

Denton Wellness Centre

Market Street

Beeley Street

Clarendon Street

Rassbottom Street

Harrop Street

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