Southend motorists set to face extra charge for using parking app

A “sinister” parking charge is planned for everyone who uses a card to pay for a mobile parking app in Southend.

The council’s draft budget includes plans to charge a “convenience fee” for anyone using the PayByPhone app to park in council car parks – bringing a £50,000 a year saving for the council.

A report to cabinet, which is set to rubber stamp the proposal to pass on transaction fees to motorists on Thursday, said: “Payments made via the PayByPhone application include a card transaction fee. To reduce unnecessary repeat bookings and additional costs to the council it is proposed to pass the card transaction fee on to the client.

“This practice is commonplace in many other areas and will offset the increasing cost of the use of card payments to the council.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “This is one of the more sinister charges that they are bringing to residents and visitors alike.

“There is a parking strategy in which they are making it a priority to make people not to use cash. They want people to go cashless but they’re now going to face more charges than what’s advertised.

“They are going to penalise people via a transaction fee. The other issue is why are the council just picking on motorists? What about all other card payments that are made, card transaction fees?

“This is just to punish the motorist. It’s just anti-car.”

Steven Wakefield, councillor responsible for for highways and transport, said: “When drivers use the cashless parking app option to park, there is an associated convenience fee currently absorbed by the council.

“The proposal is to pass this convenience fee on to the customer, which will continue to enable them to manage their parking stay as required.

“Convenience fees are common practice in many other local authorities and other businesses where they have been absorbed by the customer for many years.”

The council says the charge will not apply to anyone using cash and there are no plans currently to charge a transaction fee if a card is used at a parking machine.

The authority also did not divulge how much extra the transaction fee would cost motorists.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter