Now National Trust joins car park app chaos: Two MILLION face ‘parking meter deserts’ as councils scrap traditional pay-and-display meters in favour of ‘cashless’ alternatives in beauty spots
- For some Frensham Little Pond became parking hell as pay-and-display removed
- It is one of around 30 ‘cashless’ National Trust car parks you need an app to use
- Charity confirmed it axed machines at the car park after the vandalism of four
For ramblers, nature enthusiasts and local families, Frensham Little Pond has long been a popular destination.
But for some this verdant haven in west Surrey has become a parking hell since the National Trust removed traditional pay-and-display meters.
Instead drivers are instructed to use the parking app PayByPhone. And the Daily Mail can reveal it is one of around 30 ‘cashless’ National Trust car parks, meaning just under 4 per cent are now ‘app only’.
It comes as 2million people face a future in ‘parking meter deserts’, as councils scrap traditional machines in favour of cashless alternatives. Charity bosses and MPs have branded the trend ‘appalling’ and urged council chiefs to consider the impact on older motorists.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has written to every local authority in England, warning them not to force drivers to use their phones to pay for parking.
For some this verdant haven in west Surrey has become a parking hell since the National Trust removed traditional pay-and-display meters
For ramblers, nature enthusiasts and local families, Frensham Little Pond has long been a popular destination
Visitors to Frensham Little Pond were quick to voice their frustrations.
Landscape architect Phil Brown, 57, who was there with his elderly father, said: ‘I hate these machines.
‘I flatly refuse to download yet another parking app on to my phone and I see absolutely no reason why they can’t make a provision to pay by cash or card.’
Mr Brown, from Somerset, added: ‘I just hate the whole bureaucracy of it all. So now we’re going to get back into the car and drive somewhere else that allows me to pay in a normal way for parking.’
Visitors to the site can pay for parking through PayByPhone’s app, logging into the firm’s website or by texting or calling it.
A sign said drivers could pay for parking at a cafe if they were ‘struggling with the app’. However, it took more than four minutes for a young person to walk to the cafe – and it is only open 10am-3pm.
Parking is free for National Trust members if they leave their membership cards on the dashboard.
Teacher Emma Ghosh, 44, said: ‘My membership expires in a few weeks and I don’t really want to renew it. But if I don’t, I’m going to have to find a different place to park.’
But visitors have been quick to voice their frustrations as they see no reason not to pay by cash or card
The conservation charity confirmed it axed cash machines at the car park in 2021 after the vandalism of four machines, with thieves successfully stealing or attempting to steal cash.
Last night campaigners called on bosses to bring back traditional meters. Baroness Altmann, a former pensions minister and campaigner for older people, said: ‘The National Trust needs to reconsider its decision to take away the opportunity from people who don’t have a smartphone to park in some of their car parks – it’s wrong and it’s shameful.’
And Dennis Reed, of pensioners’ campaign group Silver Voices, added: ‘Even during their leisure time, older people are being isolated by technology.’
A National Trust spokesman said: ‘We are sorry for the impact this has had on some users of this car park. Visitors preferring to pay in cash can do so at the cafe which is open during peak visitor hours between 10am and 3pm in winter and 10am and 4pm in summer.’