TV Joan forces U-turn over cashless parking scheme
BY Sanchez Manning A VETERAN TV presenter has forced Westminster Council to accept that its pay-by-phone parking system is impractical for dozens of elderly drivers. Furious Joan Bakewell mounted a public protest against cashless parking meters in streets
BY Sanchez Manning
A VETERAN TV presenter has forced Westminster Council to accept that its pay-by-phone parking system is impractical for dozens of elderly drivers.
Furious Joan Bakewell mounted a public protest against cashless parking meters in streets across the borough.
Now she has claimed success with the announcement by the council of a new scratch card scheme.
The cards will offer older motorists who struggle to use cashless parking, together with those without a mobile phone, an alternative method of payment.
Westminster's parking director, Alastair Gilchrist, who agreed to a TV interview with Ms Bakewell earlier this month, said: "We've put time and effort into coming up with a system for the minority.
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"The scratch cards will give older people a nice, simple and easy-to-use solution.
"If they don't feel comfortable with technology, this will help them along.
"I'm confident that it will be a big success and I'm happy that we've heard some feedback and responded to that."
The cashless meters were introduced in February.
Ms Bakewell launched her campaign after receiving a £160 fine for refusing to pay a ticket.
The 75-year-old said when she tried to pay the fee by phone she had been unable to hear the instructions of the automated message over the traffic.
She had been attending a medical appointment in Harley Street.
The council had refused to believe she was hard of hearing.
But last month an independent adjudicator ordered her fine to be cancelled.
She said: "The council sent its parking boss to meet me and he said that they had done a survey which showed lots of people were pleased with the cashless parking system. But I found that out of the people the council surveyed, only two per cent were over 60 and, while we were filming, there was an old woman who was struggling to use the meter.
"After our meeting, he went away and said he'd think about my criticisms and may introduce a different type of system.
"He then got back in touch to tell me about the scratch cards.
"I'd like to see this new system go London-wide because the world just doesn't pay enough attention to the elderly."
The scheme will be trialled in the first week of July. The £2 and £4 scratch cards will be available to buy from all Westminster libraries.
Drivers opting for this method will be required to scratch off the time and date they parked before displaying the card in their car window.
Therefore, if a £2 card is bought in a £1 an hour parking area, it will last for two hours.
The official launch of the scheme will be on July 17 at a council organised Music Hall show for elderly residents held at the London Coliseum.