The introduction of a new cashless parking trial in Purley has caused a rift between residents.

While some welcome the move towards modernity, others fear it will drive shoppers away.

Some believe the scheme, which is also being trialled in Addiscombe and New Addington, will also alienate the area’s elderly population, who may struggle to adapt to the new RingGo-operated system.

Your Local Guardian: This is the second cashless parking trial in the borough, with the first taking place in South Croydon last summer This is the second cashless parking trial in the borough, with the first taking place in South Croydon last summer

After struggling to navigate the new system, a Purley resident said: “My dad comes here, and he’s in his 70s, he doesn’t have a smart phone. What happens if you don’t have a smart phone? It just assumes that everybody can do it and they can’t. It’s not fair.”

Another shopper, Sharon, told the LDRS: “It doesn’t bother me because I don’t tend to carry cash, I prefer to do it on my phone anyway.

"It’s convenient for me, but I would understand if the elderly don’t take to it because they’re more likely to be carrying cash.”

The three-week trial, introduced on January 2, will require shoppers to register their parking via the RingGo app or by calling a payment number.

Parking will be restricted to an hour and cost shoppers 20p.

This trial replaces the ticketed free hour shoppers used to get, with the option of feeding the meter for extra time.

However, many lament the old system and believe the trial will stifle business on the high street.

In the family Dry Cleaning business he runs with his mum, Ersen Yeldener said: “I reckon we’re going to lose a lot of trade in the long run.

“Before you couldn’t find a space here, now the streets are empty. No one wants to come down. You may have more free spaces but that’s just because people won’t want to come because they don’t know how to use it. 

“Some people only want to use it for five minutes and don’t want to pay the 20p. Some people don’t want to leave their bank details on RingGo and other people just think Croydon Council is being difficult. It seems like one thing after another.”

Ersen’s mother, Nasibe, added: “Everybody comes in and complains to us like it’s our fault. Yesterday, we had a customer who came in and said, could you watch my car for me when she went out to another shop.”

Ersen added: “They’re good customers, so you can’t really say no, but I’ve got to do my work. It puts you in a bit of a catch-22.”

Riddlesdown resident Alan walked into the shop while the LDRS were visiting Purley Dry Cleaning.

After leaving his order with Nasibe, he chimed in, saying: “It’s the first time I’ve come down to Purley this year, and it’s a good job I bought my phone with me to park.

“I like RingGo, it’s quite flexible, and you can do it all over London. You don’t even need to use the app to park. It’s better than faffing around trying to get a free ticket in the rain.”

According to Croydon Council, RingGo is used by over 50 per cent of other London councils, processing 68 per cent of all parking sessions in the capital.

The borough’s contract with RingGo was awarded in 2022 via the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, a consortium that develops a list of approved vendors for local government contracts.

Alan’s positivity for the new trial was shared by fellow South Croydon resident Sonia, who believes the change will benefit her business.

Your Local Guardian: Sonia says her customers often get their kids to check whether their cars are being ticketed on the high street Sonia says her customers often get their kids to check whether their cars are being ticketed on the high street

Speaking to the LDRS in her self-titled beauty parlour, Sonia said: “I think it is better on the whole, it’s stopped people holding onto spaces. People used to get an hour free then keep topping up. Now that is not allowed.”

Despite welcoming this change, Sonia acknowledged the changes she has had to make as a result of the trial.

She told the LDRS: “I used to drive here, but now I leave my car at home and get the bus here. I only live in South Croydon, so it is only five stops away on the bus

“Each time I have an appointment I get a call from a customer saying, ‘I’m coming Sonia, I’m just checking the parking’. I have customers who are always running out during appointments to check if their car is OK. Sometimes they get their kids to do the checking.”

The current scheme follows last summer’s trial on South End and Selsdon Road in South Croydon.

The council told the LDRS it is listening to its residents as the latest trial includes more cash payment options for users.

On its website, Croydon Council justified the trial by citing the winding down of the 3G network the parking meters previously relied upon.

They said: “This trial will enable the council to understand the impact of moving to cashless payment and address issues that users experience during the trials.”

Unsurprisingly, the announcement of this trial ignited a fierce debate online, with commenters taking issue with everything from its effect on South Croydon’s elderly to notice given about the trial, which took place over the busy festive period. 

However, the biggest criticisms were reserved for how the trial would impact high street trade.

One commenter, Gill Davies, went as far as saying the trial was a "kiss of death for Purley High Street".

On Facebook, Teresa Miller commented: “Purley is run down enough, it needs positive steps to regenerate its failing high street, not something as counter-productive as this poorly thought out trial, which undoubtedly in a very short amount of time, will become permanent.

“Purley used to be such a lovely place, I know we have lived here for years. This ridiculous idea, being forced upon us, will be another nail in Purley’s coffin I fear.

"No account has been taken for elderly people who don’t use the ‘tech’ necessary for this.”

However, not all were against the new changes.

Fellow Facebook user, Christopher Simon Brew, responded to Miller’s comment, saying: “This is a short trial, and only in a few streets. Why not just try it?

“Current machines have to be scrapped because 3G network will be shut down in 2024, and the impoverished council doesn’t have spare cash for new machines. I agree it’s a pain to register the first time, but it’s easy after that.”

When approached for comment, a council spokesperson said: “Network providers will soon be shutting off the 3G network and, since ‘pay-and-display’ machines use this network to process payments, the machines will no longer be operational. The purpose of this trial is to understand and address any impacts that would come from the removal of the machines.

“For those who still want to pay with cash, we have made payment services available in some local shops as part of the trial. We’re already hearing helpful feedback about the number and location of payment service shops, which is exactly the sort of feedback we were hoping to gain.

“Residents also have the option to book a session by phone – including landlines – by calling 020 3046 0010 and confirming the customer details and the RingGo location code, which are on the street signs, also installed as part of the trial.”

The trial will end on Monday, January 22.