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Council introduces 'hidden' car park fee increase

Cheshire East has introduced a 20p 'convenience fee' this month for drivers using the RingGo phone app

(Image: PA)

Cheshire East Council has introduced a ‘convenience fee’ for anyone who pays for parking by mobile phone.

The council’s RingGo smartphone app was introduced two years ago and allows drivers to pay for and extend their parking ticket.

But the council has now introduced a 20p surcharge for those using the app for payments of more than 40p - the vast majority of car parks in Macclesfield.

This fee - introduced on August 1 - also applies to anyone who chooses to use the app to extend the length of their parking ticket, and will be applied each time it is lengthened.

The council did not warn motorists they would face this charge from August 1, despite issuing a press release in June about the introduction of new parking meters.

A spokesman for Cheshire East Council says the convenience fee has been implemented so it is the service user, not the council tax payer, who foots the bill.

He said: “We now offer a variety of payment options to our residents and visitors. In addition to RingGo, coin payments, contactless and chip and pin options for debit and credit cards are also available. There is no convenience fee for using debit or credit cards or making cash payments. Conditions for use are clearly stated on all our machines.

“The convenience fee has been implemented in conjunction with the installation and commissioning of our new pay-and-display parking machines. This allows the council to facilitate the continuation of this useful provision but to pass on the cost to the service user and not the council tax payers of Cheshire East.

“If regular users of the cashless mobile app solution don’t want to pay the convenience fee, there are a number of alternative payment options available.

“We only allow ‘top-ups’ on long-stay car parks where motorists are permitted to park for a full day. When one full-day session expires, a top-up can be made. In this instance, a further convenience fee would be applied.

There is already a discrepancy between parking charges in council car parks across the borough.

Drivers in Middlewich, Alsager, Audlem, Congleton, Disley, Handforth, Holmes Chapel, Sandbach, Prestbury, Poynton and Shavington get their parking for free.

The only free car park close to Macclesfield Town Centre is on Hibel Road.

The convenience charge only applies to transactions above 40p and therefore does not apply to the short stay car park at the Town Hall, The Carrs in Wilmslow, or South Street in Alderley Edge.

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