Peterborough City Council makes over £65,000 by not giving people change when they pay and display

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Peterborough City Council made more than £65,000 from car park pay-and-display machines which do not give change.

Some 26 local authorities across the East of England received more than £550,000 in overpayments last year, a BBC investigation found.

The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk was top of the list, with £69,629, while Peterborough City Council was second, gaining £66,774.

Peterborough City Council said alternative payment options were available at all of its car parks.

A spokesman for Peterborough City Council said: “Pay-and-display machines that do give change are significantly more expensive to purchase and maintain.

“The use of them would mean higher parking tariffs, and so the council has been able to keep tariffs low and competitive compared to other parking operators in the city.”

The council’s figures did not include two of its car parks.

Motoring organisation the RAC criticised the system, saying: “Half a million pounds might be small change to councils, but to hard-pressed drivers, every penny counts. Many will think they are being made to pay a penalty for doing the right thing and buying a ticket.”

Many councils are now choosing alternative methods to calculate charges, with many now opting for online and telephone payment.

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has called for a move towards machines where drivers can pay on departure, saying the pay-and-display method has “few if any advantages” over this system.

Chief executive Alan Hawkins said: “The consumer doesn’t have to predict his time of shop and isn’t therefore inhibited by having to leave too early or overcharged by having to guess too long.”

However, an analysis carried out as part of the British Retail Consortium’s Cost of Payment Collection Survey in 2012 showed that cash was the most popular payment method, and also the cheapest transaction method for car park operators.