OPPOSITION councillors on Cotswold District Council (CDC) have welcomed a decision from the administration to delay removing the facility to pay by cash in council car parks.

This process will now be a phased approach and completed by January 2022.

CDC announced earlier this year that cash payments would be removed from council owned car parks by March 2021, and residents would instead be encouraged to pay by card or by mobile phone app.

However, the decision was opposed by the opposition Conservative group, who claimed that it would leave numerous older residents unable to pay for parking.

The opposition group has been running a survey on social media, of which they claim over 93 per cent of the 400 applicants agreed that the removal of cash payments in car parks was the wrong policy at the wrong time.

Cllr Richard Morgan, leader of the Opposition Conservative Group said: “We are delighted that they have listened to common sense and to overwhelming public opinion and delayed the decision to remove the ability to pay by cash.

“However, we will continue to campaign to allow residents to pay by cash as this is the preferred option for many of our residents.”

“At a time when many of our neighbouring councils are offering free parking to try and support their high streets through the Covid-19 pandemic, it would have been another kick in the teeth to Cotswold business owners if they had increased parking charges and then made paying for parking more difficult.”

Cllr Mike Evemy, Cotswold District Council deputy leader said: "Our Liberal Democrat administration intends to phase out the use of cash in our car parks because of the costs and inconvenience of acts of theft and vandalism and the cost and environmental impact of cash collections.

"There have been nine incidents of theft or vandalism of machines in our car parks in the last four years with a total cost of nearly £40,000.

"They have occurred across the district and cause inconvenience for drivers as well as the council.

"The estimated loss of parking revenue as a result of just two incidents at Bourton-on-the-Water and the Beeches in Cirencester is £65,000.

"Cash collection requires regular journeys around the district to empty the machines with the associated vehicle use and costs the council £35,000 a year.

"Our plans will allow all drivers to pay by contactless or chip and Pin with a bank card or by phone using our new PayByPhone app.

"We scrapped the 10p admin charge for paying by App on October 1.

"This followed the introduction of free 20-minute bays in Cirencester, Tetbury and Moreton.

"We've seen more people pay by card since the first lockdown and by App since September, so consumer behaviour is changing.

"We are allowing more time for this change so we can engage drivers about paying in a different way.

"However, unlike the Conservatives, we don't believe 'numerous older residents will be unable to pay for parking'.

"People of all ages use smartphone apps to make their lives easier and for those who don't have a smartphone, payment by card will remain available."