Brighton Parking System Shows Council Arrogance, Contempt.
Or Does It? Surely A Good-Faith Reasonable Appeal Will Be Accepted?
“I’m awaiting a response to my appeal and I can’t really believe it will be turned down because I clearly acted in good faith”
Brighton and Hove City Council’s parking system tells you all you need to know about the contempt these little dictators have for those that pay their wages.
This parking system uses “smart” phone technology to make life easier for the council, but omits a key factor: you, local residents, the council tax payer, the visitor to the town, and many pensioners who are being cruelly exploited with a gouge to prise £70 fines out of them. This comes with a threat that if you pay now, the fine will reduce to £35.
Whoever thought that up must have been trained by East Germany’s Stasi. How dare they design a clunky system that baffles many, then use a threat to force compliance. Did anyone on Brighton and Hove Council ever imagine who they were addressing? It shows a lack of understanding of their citizens’ needs and a mighty dose of contempt too.
There’s nothing wrong with using “smart” phone technology. It can be a cheap and easy way to levy parking charges. But the council, at some of the parking sites, makes the ridiculous assumption that everyone has a smart phone and knows how to use it. Some of the sites retain meters which accept real money, or have a third option of using a credit card. But some parking zones only allow payment by smart phone, with no provision for those that can only use cash or credit cards. This, to my way of thinking, is an almost criminal act of negligence by the council.
You won’t be surprised, from the town of this missive that I recently fell foul of the system. I’m sure many other residents, or more likely visitors to the city, will also have been hit by its lack of flexibility and fairness.
The system varies around the city. I was a victim of the Princes Ave, Hove, setup and was fined £70. This is what I wrote to the council challenging the fine and spelling out my experience –
“I’ve been travelling into Brighton for business and pleasure for many years every couple of months or so.
This time, I had an appointment in Hove Street. I came armed with coins, and a new app on my mobile phone which allows me to use an American Express card to pay for stuff, although I’ve never actually used it. I downloaded this because I’d heard that in some parts of Brighton there are parking machines which only allow payment by smart phone, although I didn’t really believe it. The last time I parked in Brighton was in a parking area in the centre of town just up from the Dome, where you can still pay using traditional methods.
Today (April 6) in Princes Ave, I came 10 minutes early for my 2pm appointment, and the only spaces available were ones that had instructions for mobile phone payments. I telephoned 01273 458458 expecting some helpful instructions from a real person. All I got was a message suggesting that I download an app. Not very helpful advice standing in the street with time ticking away. I then texted 85517 with the code on the sign. I received this reply –
“Sorry your message is in the wrong format. To park send the location number, followed by parking duration, 3 digit CVV & number plate e.g. 1234 10m 123 PLATE”.
I have no idea what a 3 digit CVV number is, there was no obvious way to use my American Express wallet app, time was running out so I decided to rush to my appointment.
Given that I was clearly prepared to pay, and was only thwarted by this opaque and user-unfriendly system, I think your £70 parking fine is an affront, unfair and unjustified. I clearly owe you £2 for the parking, and will be happy to send this to you.
A week later in a different part of Hove I parked in The Drive and, yippee, there was a coin option. But when I tried to put money in, the system wouldn’t accept coins. I reported this to the parking authorities. This machine also allowed me the option of paying by credit card, which I used.
I’m not complaining about the council’s decision to modernise the system, but the assumption that it doesn’t need to offer alternatives. This will victimize many visitors to the town, while imposing horrendous fines for non-compliance. Word will soon spread that Brighton & Hove is not concerned about visitors and most of all pensioners not familiar with smart phones and is happy to gouge them with huge fines.
I’m awaiting a response to my appeal and I can’t really believe it will be turned down because I clearly acted in good faith, and the council is really formed of nice people who wouldn’t dream of exploiting visitors or pensioners unfairly. And it will agree to supply alternative payment methods to make it easier for people
Watch this space to see if I’m being naive.