The opposition Conservative group on Cotswold District Council (CDC) has released research claiming that 9,058 Cotswold residents will be unable to use the new app at CDC run car parks because they do not have a modern smartphone with internet access.
The Office of National Statistics reports that just 40% of people aged over 65 have internet access via a smartphone. As 25.2% of the population of the Cotswolds are aged over 65, this means pro-rata that around 9,058 people will potentially not be able to use the new app recently released by Cotswold District Council.
The CDC Conservative group is attempting to highlight that many Cotswold residents will be discriminated against when the council remove the ability to pay by cash in car parks by March 2021.
They are calling for residents to retain the ability to pay by cash, card or app and are asking the Lib Dem administration to reverse their decision to discontinue accepting cash payments.
Cllr Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition Conservative Group said,
“We welcome the roll-out of the app and I am sure many tech-savvy Cotswold residents will enjoy and benefit from using it, however cash remains a popular payment type for a large number of visitors to our car parks. The Cotswolds is quite unique in that it is a rural area, and we have a slightly older demographic than you find in most cities. We also have many foreign tourists who visit our area, and their preferred option is to pay quickly by cash rather than signing up for an app on what could be a one-time visit.”
“Our small business owners and high streets are in a world of pain right now and struggling with the second wave of COVID-19. Everybody can see that our car parks are emptier than before the pandemic started. We need to be doing everything we can to encourage visitors to our town centres to support our business owners. Increasing parking fees by 30% and making it technically more difficult for people to pay for parking is doing the exact opposite.”
“Although the Lib Dem administration has confirmed that it will only be cash payments that are abolished by March next year, we have not got a commitment that card payments are staying for the long term. If the card payment machines are staying, we may as well keep the cash element going as well because the existing infrastructure is already in place.”