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Not having the right change costs drivers more than £5,000

Shoppers and workers have paid in excess of £5,000 in overpayments for parking in council-run car parks in Peterborough this year because they did not have the right change.
Car Haven car park
Peterborough City Council has received over £5,000 in car park overpayments this year (Photo: Google Maps)

The figure has fallen from more than £10,000 in the previous year - and is likely to contiunue fall since the introduction of contactless card payment facilities.

A Freedom of Information Act request submitted to Peterborough City Council revealed that overpayments for parking fees across their various car parks totalled £5,578.35 between September 2019 and August 2020. Meanwhile, the year prior to that saw overpayments total £10,236.75. 

The parking machines at the council-run car parks do not offer change so drivers must have the correct money if paying by cash. When they don't the excess paid is banked by the machine.

Free parking was offered during lockdown and there are still fewer people visiting the city centre, which goes some way to attribute to the difference in the figures.

Also, contactless readers and PayByPhone apps have now been introduced at all facilties - with some only offering card payment options - and more and more customers are using these to avoid the need to handle cash during the pandemic, meaning the overpayment figure is likely to continue falling. 

A spokesman for Peterborough City Council confirmed that additional fees are returned to the parking services, and said: "Any overpayments go back into the main parking services budget which is used across our parking service."

Resident Susan MacDonnell, who used to overpay frequently because she rarely had change, was grateful to see the introduction of the new card payment machines. 

She said: "I haven't driven for a while, but when I did, my go-to car park was at the market, but most of the time I only wanted to pay for an hour and I would only have £2 coins. 

"I didn't often have odd change lying around so it was really difficult to pay for the machines in the exact change. I lost so much money over the years because of a lack of change, so I'll always avoid using cash when I go out with friends and family.

"Although I don't really use the apps, whenever I do pay for parking I'll always use the contactless machine, it's so much easier and it only charges me what it needs to."

Upon reviewing the drop, Peterborough City Council said: "There has been a marked drop in overpayments in the last two years."

Northminster car park was the biggest of Peterborough City Council owned facilities and was closed during lockdown.

During the three month break in parking charges, a spokesman for Peterborough City Council said the estimated loss of parking income was £579,000.

They said: "This takes into account loss of income from both on and off-street chargeable spaces, so our on street pay and display bays as well as car parks, which the council also suspended charging for. 

"It includes loss of sales from season tickets and other car park related permits. 

"It is a comparison to the same period last year with a planned tariff increase, which was due to take place March 30 but was subsequently postponed by the council, taken into account."