Cashless parking payment concern for Dagenham business owners

Mark Nichols, from the Four Seasons Florist, with one of the parking signs

Mark Nichols, from the Four Seasons Florist, with one of the parking signs - Credit: Archant

Cashless parking is causing concern for business owners who say changes could drive customers away.

The system, which only allows drivers to pay by mobile phone or credit or debit card, is being rolled out by Barking and Dagenham Council.

It was recently introduced in Broad Street, Dagenham, and will come into force in Becontree Avenue in January.

Although the system includes fifteen minutes free parking, Jason Aiken, co-owner of the Golden Fish in Becontree Avenue, says that parking in the area has always been free and having to pay will not be welcomed.

“It will actually dissuade customers from coming in the shop, they have told us that,” he said. “If someone is paying £1.35 for a bag of chips they are not going to pay for parking.”

Richard Mackenzie, owner of Four Seasons Florist in Broad Street says signs put up by the council are difficult to read and badly positioned.

“I can’t see how this benefits the customers or the shops,” the 47-year-old said. “Not everyone has a mobile phone, but people usually have change in their car.”

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Lee Blackmore, who co-owns Heath Pie shop in Becontree Avenue, says fifteen minutes free parking is not enough.

“As a pie and mash shop we were hoping for half an hour, so people have time to eat or come and get a take away,” he said.

Bradley Winsley, 30, from D&T Trophies shop in Broad Street, is waiting to see trade in the New Year is affected.

He said: “It’s going to be less busy if people have to worry about parking before going to the shop.

“Fifteen minutes free is good if people are picking stuff up – if they want to browse it’s not.”

And Jason worries that the changes will hit independent businesses hardest as shopping will become less convenient.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if within twelve months of this being introduced some smaller businesses have closed,” he said.

“If you are going to buy a bag of chips or a newspaper you are not going to go to the shop, you are going to go to Morrisons. It’s driving everybody to the supermarkets.”

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council said: “As part of the council’s drive to modernise its parking service we will be rolling out cashless parking schemes across the borough where it is appropriate to do so.

“Both schemes were subject to a full consultation process.”