Car park charge suspended as Dagenham traders call for permanent scrapping
- Credit: Archant
Controversial parking charges should be scrapped permanently, say businesses.
Drivers using the previously free car park outside the parade of shops at Fiddlers Junction, Dagenham, were forced to pay for the privilege using a RingGo parking system from Thursday.
But two days after the charges were introduced a suspension has been put in place until further notice as the council reviews the scheme.
The charges have been dismissed as the work of a “buffoon” by the manager of The Golden Fish, Jason Aiken.
The award-winning chippy is just one of the businesses calling for a permanent council U-turn.
In an email to the council on Friday, Jason compared management of the system, which requires payment via a phone app or call, to the incompetence of comedy character Basil Fawlty.
“This is a hare-brained scheme that over 50 per cent of our customers can’t access,” he said. “An old boy came in and walked straight out when we told him he had to pay because he didn’t have a phone.
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“Some buffoon at the council had no idea how this would affect people.”
And he said trade was suffering.
“On Friday we had one customer at lunch time – we’re usually rammed,” he said. “I’m genuinely scared – I’ve got 12 staff to employ.”
Loyal customer Jane Wilkinson, 47, said she and others have been overcharged: “All they’re after is money – that’s all the council’s bothered about. The sign says the first hour is 30p but the app said the minimum stay was two hours.”
After opting to pay by phoning RingGo, Jane was charged 90p for two hours – despite signs stating two hours cost 50p.
Tony’s Barbers, Fiddlers Cafe and Becontree News also reported a drop in trade.
A council spokesman said overcharged drivers will be reimbursed and shoppers get their first 15 minutes of parking free.
“Charges were introduced after a consultation with businesses following concern over congestion affecting trade,” he said. “We are very sorry for anyone inconvenienced by the technical problems.
“The scheme is under review and until we have carried this out, it has been suspended until further notice.”
But Heath Pie Shop manager Lee Blackmore said his customers deserve an hour’s free parking.
“Every shopkeeper’s fed up with it and we’re down on our trade,” he said.
“But as soon as those black bags went up [covering the payment meters] the car park started filling up again.”