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£7,564 to teach how to park at Regent Arcade in Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: September 24, 2012

Regent Arcade Car Park

Regent Arcade Car Park

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THOUSANDS of pounds have been spent on hiring staff to show people how to pay to park in Cheltenham.

The two workers have been employed to help drivers use the new machines at Regent Arcade car park.

Their wages are coming to £7,654 over three months.

This is on top of the £85,355 paid for the high tech ticketless parking machines which use automatic number plate recognition.

The cost has sparked surprise among drivers.

One car park user Mark Parker, from Kempsford, said: "That's a lot of money to spend on something like that.

"When we got to the car park we were confused initially but then we looked around and worked it out for ourselves pretty easily."

A Freedom of Information Act revealed Cheltenham Borough Council is paying £89 a day to employ two people part-time to show motorists how to use the machines.

They sit next to the machines in high visibility jackets from 9am to 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays and from 9am to 5pm on Sundays to help puzzled parkers pay after their shop.

The council has confirmed the arrangements to "manage the transition and assist customers with the changeover" would be reviewed at the end of September.

A spokesman said the support staff at the car park were tasked with a number of roles.

She said: "Managing the transition and assisting customers with the changeover costs around £89 per day; this is dependent however on demand.

"In the early implementation stages additional coverage has been provided to assist customers in using the new system, helping blue badge holders and to cover high visitation periods during the summer period and school holidays."

The number plate recognition machines were installed on July 6. When drivers want to leave, they use a touch screen to key in their registration number and a picture of their car appears. They then make a payment for their length of stay.

In July, Rebecca Banner, the council's parking administration manager, said the launch was successful and had received positive feedback.

She said the staff were there to help customers and "ensure the smooth running of the car park for a better shopping and parking experience".

But Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, criticised the move.

He said: "The revelation that it has cost Cheltenham families nearly £100,000 to replace the parking machines and then employ individuals to explain how they work only goes to underline the need for questions to be asked of those who decided this was all worthwhile in the first place.

"Hard-pressed residents will find it hard to believe that value for money has been delivered."

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  • verysceptical  |  September 24 2012, 9:51PM

    The system still doesnt work though. Black and silver plates (legal on pre '73) cars, or drive close to the car in front and you will have to use what is in effect an honesty box and admit to how long youve been parked. I NEVER seem to be there more than an hour!

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  • Unidad1234  |  September 24 2012, 9:27PM

    The two helpers are redeployed from the barrier duty to help customer, they would otherwise will be working in some other section of carpark. Would that make you happy if ther were not visible. so dont you think it is cost effective that two staggered start employee manage a four storey car park?

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  • tishwash  |  September 24 2012, 7:35PM

    Surely they only need one ?

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  • halfdome1  |  September 24 2012, 3:22PM

    Not sure it is good money Thomas! £89/day - for two people. £45 per person per day.......9am - 6pm.....

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  • thomas1996  |  September 24 2012, 1:38PM

    That's good money - works out a salary of over £1,250 a month each - got any other jobs like that?

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  • Douglasknows  |  September 24 2012, 10:57AM

    Why would the council (i.e., us) have to pay to teach users of the car park. Surely the manufacturers of the system should be paying this.

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  • Walker100  |  September 24 2012, 8:36AM

    I visited on Saturday and the machines didn't work properly, hence queues formed. The touch screen needs to be pressed several times to get it to react and, even then, it sometimes doesn't. I pressed the receipt request several times and it just went on to the next user.

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