AS letters are still sometimes appearing in the Echo about council car parks in Bournemouth, I feel I need to dismiss once and for all two complete myths which just do not seem to go away:

1) “The council is reducing public car park spaces by building on its car parks.”

In every single case where the council has allowed development on its car parks, the number of public car parking spaces has been replaced with at least an equal number. These are in addition to any parking spaces provided for new homes.

In one case, (Madeira Road), the new spaces far outnumber the old ones. In one case (Berry Court) a few of the public spaces have been temporarily leased out, but the council can end that lease if demand grows. In every case the replacement car park is of far higher quality and the individual spaces larger than those that were there before.

2) “The new cashless parking arrangements mean you have to use an App.”

There are three ways to pay where these modern machines have replaced the 30-year-old ones, which were constantly breaking down; which were frequently vandalised; and which cost the council taxpayer a fortune in thefts and cash-collection costs. You can: Use a credit or debit card (no PIN required) at the machine. This includes prepaid top-up charge cards which are readily available and do not require the user to have a bank account or to provide any details about themselves. Call a telephone number provided on the machine and pay over the phone. For those who prefer it, this can be done from inside their car. Use an App on a smart phone. While different councils around the country use different providers (and this includes Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole), BCP will also develop an App which can be used across the conurbation. Users will still be able to use the individual Apps they already have if they prefer.

There is no additional charge to use any of these methods in Bournemouth compared with the old cash machines. However, they do mean you don’t need to pay for a longer period than you need just because you do not have the right coins.

More than 20% of UK residents do not carry cash with them (let alone coins) and this is expected to rise to 40% very quickly. In contrast, over 96% carry a phone and over 96% carry a credit or debit card. Anybody who for whatever reason “doesn’t trust” bank cards, there is nothing to stop them obtaining a prepaid charge card, which can be topped up anonymously using cash at post offices or at any one of Paypoint’s 34,000 stores.

I do hope this letter will clear things up once and for all.


Cabinet Member for Transport, Bournemouth Borough Council