By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter
The introduction of a new cashless parking trial in Purley has divided shopkeepers and customers alike, with some fearing the move towards modernity may drive shoppers away.
Some believe the scheme, which is also being trialled in Addiscombe and New Addington, also alienates the area’s elderly population, who might be struggling to adapt to the new RingGo-operated system.
While Ersen Yeldener, who runs family Dry Cleaning business he runs with his mother, said: “I reckon we’re going to lose a lot of trade in the long run.
“Before you couldn’t find a space here, now the streets are empty. No one wants to come down. You may have more free spaces but that’s just because people won’t want to come because they don’t know how to use it.
“Some people only want to use it for five minutes and don’t want to pay the 20p. Some people don’t want to leave their bank details on RingGo.”
The three-week trial, introduced on January 2, requires shoppers to register their parking via the RingGo app or by calling a payment number. Parking is restricted to an hour and costs shoppers 20p.
This trial replaces the ticketed free hour shoppers used to get, with the option of feeding the meter for extra time. However, many believe the trial will stifle business in the high street.
Mr Yeldener’s mother, Nasibe, said: “Everybody comes in and complains to us like it’s our fault. Yesterday, we had a customer who came in and said, could you watch my car for me when she went out to another shop.”
Riddlesdown resident Alan, who only wanted to give his first name, said: “I like RingGo, it’s quite flexible, and you can do it all over London. You don’t even need to use the app to park. It’s better than faffing around trying to get a free ticket in the rain.”
According to Croydon Council, RingGo is used by over 50 per cent of other London councils, processing 68 per cent of all parking sessions in the capital.
Online, opinions have also been strongly aired. One commenter, Gill Davies, said the scheme was a ‘kiss of death for Purley High Street’. On Facebook, Teresa Miller said: “Purley is run down enough, it needs positive steps to regenerate its failing high street, not something as counter-productive as this.
Fellow Facebook user Christopher Simon Brew replied: “Current machines have to be scrapped because 3G network will be shut down in 2024, and the impoverished council doesn’t have spare cash for new machines. I agree it’s a pain to register the first time, but it’s easy after that.”
A council spokesman said: “For those who still want to pay with cash, we have made payment services available in some local shops as part of the trial. Residents also have the option to book a session by phone – including landlines.”
The trial ends on Monday.
Pictured top: Nasibe, who runs Purley Dry Cleaning with her son, says the change has affected her business (Picture: Harrison Galliven/LDRS)
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