Over £7,000 lost from thefts to car parking ticket machines in Uttlesford

Uttlesford District Council has approved plans to upgrade car park ticket machines to card only to prevent thefts

Uttlesford District Council has approved plans to upgrade car park ticket machines to card only to prevent thefts - Credit: Charlie Ridler

Car park ticket machines in Uttlesford will be upgraded to card only after the council lost approximately £7,500 from thefts last year.

Cabinet members at Uttlesford District Council said cash ticket machines were “piggy banks waiting to be raided” as they approved the plans last week.

According to a council report, 19 ticket machines were damaged following thefts in 2021. These were subsequently changed to card only.

Portfolio holder for council and public services councillor Richard Freeman (Residents for Uttlesford, Saffron Walden Castle) said the machines could each hold up to £1,000 in cash, and that it costs a further £1,000 to mend them.

He said: “The catalyst came when we had a substantial amount of thefts of cash, because basically a ticket machine with lots of cash in it is basically a piggy bank waiting to be raided.”

Later he said: “Unfortunately somebody worked out how to get into them and went appropriately armed and quite a number of these machines were broken into very professionally and the cash stolen.”

Cllr Freeman also said the £7,500 lost from the machines was untraceable, because it is in cash.

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Replacing the remaining 18 ticket machines which currently only take cash payments is expected to cost £63,875 according to the report.

The council has an unspent pot of £92,000 which was allocated to replacing 23 old ticket machines across the district in 2016, which will be used to upgrade them to card only.

Machines in Swan Meadow car park in Saffron Walden were changed to card only in a trial last year.

In White Street car park in Great Dunmow, all ticket machines except one were changed to card only as part of the trial. The remaining cash ticket machine was then broken into and its contents stolen.

The district council owns or manages 10 pay and display off-street car parks in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Stansted Mountfitchet.

There are 37 ticket machines which are a mix of cash or card, but all users can use the MiPermit app to pay for parking.

According to the report, during a user consultation one person complained of being unable to use the machines for health and welfare reasons.

This person was given a free 12 month season ticket to allow them to continue to use the car parks.

A larger car parking survey over the whole district has been commissioned.