A fault in BT cabling has stopped all council parking machines from accepting card payments, forcing Bedford Borough Council to make parking free this weekend.
While the machines were still able to take cash, Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson (Lib Dems) said paying by cash was an “inconvenience” and has approved the temporary lift to parking charges.
From 6pm today (Friday) evening parking will be free at all multi-storey car parks.
The Council anticipates that BT will have fixed the fault by Monday morning and normal parking charges will resume.
“BT engineers are working to fix the cabling fault, which has been identified as causing the communication difficulties for our parking machines,” said the Mayor.
“Unfortunately, these repairs may involve having to lift an area of the pavement on the High Street and the Council will be ensuring that it is re-laid by BT to its current high standard.’
Bedford’s Mayor was quick to suggest it was a chance to support businesses and encourage people into the town centre.
“To help motorists avoid the inconvenience of paying cash, and to support our businesses and encourage people to come to Bedford to shop this weekend we will make all car parking free at our multi-storey car parks,” he said.
However, all Council-owned car parks are already free after 6pm (except River Street), offer two hours of free parking on Saturdays, and are all free on Sundays all day.
Parking charges in the Borough were frozen for the fifth year in a row in 2021, but there have been calls to scrap charges at council car parks
Speaking at the time of the freeze, Cllr Roger Rigby, Deputy Group Leader of the Conservative Group said: “A freeze just does not cut the mustard here, the town desperately needs more free and cheaper car parking.”