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Readers back cashless car parks in Barking and Dagenham amid trader fears

PUBLISHED: 15:29 13 March 2017

Traders are worries about older customers in Barking and Dagenham who prefer to pay in cash

Traders are worries about older customers in Barking and Dagenham who prefer to pay in cash

Archant

A cashless parking scheme traders branded “soul-destroying” has been backed by readers.

Businesses, including the Golden Fish chippy on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham say the cashless system is wrecking their businessBusinesses, including the Golden Fish chippy on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham say the cashless system is wrecking their business

Since payment through the RingGo parking app was introduced in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, in February last year, the lack of a cash payment option has alienated businesses there – including The Golden Fish chippy, whose owner Jason Aiken blames last year’s £40,000 drop in profits on elderly customers struggling to use the app.

Despite the council suspending the cashless system down just two days after its introduction and later adding a cash option, Heath Pie Shop owner Lee Blackmore was disturbed to hear the whole borough will be going cashless from April.

“We’ve got a lot of older customers – some of them don’t even know how to use smart phones and we’ve definitely lost trade,” he said. “It was so much better when they brought the cash option in.”

He said going cashless threatened to undo the boost brought by the 30 minutes’ free parking the council introduced for customers to his Becontree Avenue business in October last year.

The cashless payment system in Dagenham was suspended after problems with the RingGo appThe cashless payment system in Dagenham was suspended after problems with the RingGo app

“It’s definitely a step back,” he said. “It means everyone has to go on their phone and people just don’t want to do it.”

Since the roll-out was announced on Thursday, 677 people voted in a Post online poll asking if they thought cashless parking was a good idea, with 51 per cent of respondents backing the scheme, 47pc opposing it and just 2pc unsure.

A council spokesman said the uniformity of the cashless system would benefit drivers.

“The drive for cashless parking was part of our wider strategy to make parking fair and affordable in the borough,” he said. “We understand the concerns of traders, it’s why we have introduced 30 minutes’ free parking last year.”

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