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Uttlesford District Council trials contactless payment after car park machines are targeted for cash by thieves

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Contactless car parking payment is being trialled across Uttlesford following a spate of thefts resulting in thousands of pounds being stolen from ticket machines.

Four Uttlesford District Council car parks in Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow will try out the new cashless pay-and-display machines. They are the Rose and Crown and Swan Meadows sites in Walden and Angel Lane and White Street in Dunmow.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "Unfortunately, car park ticket machines have been targeted in a recent spate of vandalism and theft across the district, resulting in thousands of pounds in cash being stolen and which cost the council thousands more in repairing the damage.

"A trial of machines that no longer take cash has been launched for the next three months as part of an improvement programme to the council’s car parks which includes enhanced lighting, the installation of electric vehicle charging points and other works."

The machines, which have been installed in the car parks most affected, offer debit/credit card payments for the first time, including a contactless option. Customers can also still use the cashless MiPermit service online, by text or by phone – more information can be found at www.mipermit.com.

Cllr Richard Freeman, UDC's portfolio holder for council and public services, said: "With the recent vandalism and anti-social behaviour to the ticket machines, we have needed to consider options for the future viability of our car parks.

"Contactless payment methods have become commonplace over the last 18 months or so, and we believe that offering a more modern and convenient way to pay will encourage more people to visit our town centres, therefore supporting our local businesses and economy."

The new payment arrangements will be reviewed once the trial period is up. The council said it would take customer and business feedback into consideration before making a decision on whether to roll out the scheme across all of its car parks.

In the meantime, payment machines in the council’s other pay-and-display car parks and on-street parking bays will continue to accept cash unless they too are subjected to vandalism and theft.

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