MANY drivers were left fuming as numerous cashless machines in car parks in Bournemouth town centre were out of use on the first day of the Air Festival.

A connection issue with the service provider caused outrage among motorists as visitors struggled to pay for their tickets on what was one of the busiest days in Bournemouth this year.

The cashless machines have proven to be a contentious issue in the area, with many visitors and residents complaining about the complexity of the meters.

Engineers have been working to fix the problem overnight in the hope that the same problems will not be experienced today.

Trisha Keet, who lives in West Howe, said: “We have just called the emergency contact number and that said the machine has lost signal and that we should try again, it’s just not helpful.

“They’ve told us to download the app, but some people wouldn’t know how to do that. The council just don’t seem to care.”

Tom Fairbairn, from Hertfordshire, said: “What a palaver! It’s one of the busiest times of the year and this happens, it’s an absolute joke.”

His wife Pam also said: “It’s crazy, this is probably one of the busiest times ever in Bournemouth with the Air Festival starting, but that’s modern life for you.”

Although drivers have been told to pay for their parking by downloading the app, visitors have struggled. Some people were not able to download the app properly, due to reported issues with the 4G network.

Car parking attendants and engineers were forced to put bin liners over the machines as they went around the car parks trying to resolve the problem.

Drivers are being told they must pay via the app or by phone.

Gary Powell, head of highways and transportation at BCP Council, said: “We can confirm that we are currently experiencing SIM card communications issues with the cashless machines in Bournemouth.

“We are working with our external SIM card communication provider to resolve the issue and we have also sent out officers in order to get the machines back in operation as soon as possible.

“Customers can still pay for their parking session via the easy to use PayByPhone mobile app.

“Alternatively, they can call 01202 217070 and enter the location code listed on the car park signs and ticket machines to pay.

“There is also the option to park in Richmond Gardens or Avenue Road Multi Storey Car Parks where all methods of payment are working, including card and cash options.

“We apologise for the inconvenience.’’

The BIC car park is not affected by the communications issue and, although it was closed momentarily yesterday due to it being full, is also open as usual.

Andy Hadley, portfolio holder for Transport and Infrastructure at BCP council, said: “We have engineers replacing the SIM cards in the machines.

“We can’t guarantee that it will be resolved quickly but we are working as fast as we can to get the machines fixed.”