Town councillors plea for cash parking in Dorchester

Town councillors plea for cash parking in Dorchester

Published by Maria Greenwood at 12:03pm 20th May 2020.

Town councillors in Dorchester have called on Dorset Council to again allow cash to pay for car parking.

Cllr Janet Hewitt said many people in the county town, often elderly, did not have a  smart phone to use and many did not have credit cards, so were being disadvantaged by the decision to only ‘pay by app’ or to phone and make a card payment.

She said: 

"There is a lot of people under a great deal of stress, they are in their 70s and they haven’t got a smartphone.

"Some of them haven’t got a card and the only currency they have got on them is cash.

"Something has got to be done so they can pay at the car parks using cash."

Dorset Council has banned cash payments in its public car parks citing ‘staff safety’ although has continued to allow cash payments for on-street parking and at some Weymouth public car parks.

Weymouth Avenue car park
Weymouth Avenue car park

Cllr Molly Rennie said the Dorset Council argument about not taking cash because it might spread Covid 19 ‘did not wash.’

Said Cllr Stella Jones:

"Not taking cash is a great disadvantage for anybody who hasn’t got a smartphone who turns up to park and finds they can’t pay.

"We should write to Dorset Council and say ‘please let people pay by cash’ otherwise they will turn up in Dorchester and just drive home again."

Cllr Robin Potter said that if Dorset Council wanted people to again pay for parking after a period of being free it had an obligation to allow all the legal means of payment, including cash.

Cllr Fiona Kent-Ledger, the only one to vote against the call for cash payments to be re-instated, said she understood the Dorset Council reasoning over the fear of infection – with the same argument applying to re-opening public toilets, or giving enforcement notices.

Dorset County Hospital

She said that Dorset County Hospital was following the same ‘no cash’ rule for the hospital car park for the same reason, to reduce the risk of infection.

But despite the near unanimous vote for cash to once again be allowed several councillors were supportive of the Dorset Council stance to keep many popular tourist car parks closed to deter visitors to the area.

Cllr Andy Canning said the county was one of the lowest places for coronavirus infection in the country – and he wanted it to stay that way.

“We don’t want to be encouraging people to come down here and spread the virus around and create another wave of Covid 19,” he said.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter