12/1/2006UK: Vigilantes Destroy Pay and Display Parking Meters
An East Sussex town plan to raise $200,000 with new parking meters is foiled by $600,000 in damage done by vigilantes.
The East Sussex, UK town that hosts an annual Guy Fawkes Night bonfire has found "Pay and Display" style parking meters are so unpopular that local police yesterday announced a £3000 (US $5900) reward for information leading to the capture of anyone who may have blown up one of the devices with industrial fireworks. Over the past two years, vigilante attacks destroyed 33 of 90 of the devices in Lewes. Last week, three machines were destroyed and at least twelve were severely damaged by attacks as simple as gluing the coin slots shut. A total of 218 attacks have reduced the town's parking profit by £300,000 (US $590,000). No money has been stolen in the attacks.
The town introduced Pay and Display meters in September 2004 as a means of raising £100,000 (US $196,000) through double-charging for spaces. The machine serves as a central kiosk that collects payment and prints out receipts that motorists must display on their automobile to park. The single unit replaces several individual meters and eliminates the ability for motorists to pull up to a space with time left on the meter that had been paid for by the previous driver. The devices are just now being introduced into US cities.
"I thought about blowing a machine up myself," local resident Tim Stephenson, 49, told the London Evening Standard. "It's just outrageous, it's very expensive-and you get such a short time to park. It's driving people mad."
Pay and Display machines go a step further in Banbury and require motorists to type in their license plate number to eliminate the possibility of a driver passing along a receipt with time remaining to another motorist. The practice also allows the local council to track the parking habits of individual motorists.
Mr Douglas said: "If you've bought a ticket you should be able to give it away," local menswear shop owner Malcolm Douglas told the Banbury Guardian. "If someone buys a shirt from me do I dictate who they give it to?"