BY JAMES TWOMEY
Car park users are claiming a town hall is discriminating against people who do not own mobile phones.
The car park in Girton Road, Sydenham, which was once free, has had a parking meter installed but it did not work for five weeks, leaving users unable to buy a ticket unless they called a number or used a parking app.
Resident Barbara Heath, 71, lives in Newlands Park, and regularly needs to use the car park to shop at Lidl.
She does not own a smartphone and says there is a long wait when she calls the phone number provided to buy a parking ticket.
“I tried to phone the company number on the notice and had to wait around 10 minutes for a response,” said Barbara.
“The young man I eventually spoke to was rude, dismissive and said ‘if you don’t like it park elsewhere’.
“I think it’s absolutely beneath contempt. I saw an old lady break down in tears when she got a parking fine because she did not know how to get a ticket.
“The council have even admitted to putting in an old meter.
“No one parks there anymore because they can’t work out how to pay for parking and are worried about the fines.
“It can’t be good for local businesses in the area.
“There’s a chap who washes cars in the car park and he’s lost a load of money.
“No one is quibbling with paying money but if you don’t have a phone and the machine doesn’t work, what are you to do?
“It’s always those least well off who don’t have smartphones capable of doing these things.
“I pay my council tax, I stick to the rules and I find this attitude to the elderly and less well-off a disgrace.”
The council said the meter was fixed on August 12 but Barbara attempted to use it on August 22 and it was broken, and at the time of printing the meter was still not fixed.
A Lewisham council spokeswoman said: “The pay-and-display machine in the car park was recently repaired but unfortunately later vandalised.
“We are awaiting replacement parts and are chasing the supplier.
“There is a telephone number visitors can call to pay for their parking session and our civil enforcement officers will allow more time to arrange payment.
“We have recently undertaken a review of pay-and-display machines and, unlike some other boroughs, we will continue to ensure all council-run car parks have one.
“Over the next two years, we will be installing new pay-and-display machines.
“These will link to a central base that will flag up out-of-order machines and allow much quicker response times for repairing them.”