CAMPAIGNERS hoping to have a card payment machine placed in the Artrix car park to help those who do not have smartphones say they have been told by the operator it would cost £4,500 to install and an annual maintenance bill of £2,000.
HoW College, which owns the car park, introduced the controversial charges in September as a way to generate extra revenue in light of a 30 per cent cut in its budget over the last decade.
The fees were comparable to Bromsgrove town centre parking at 80p-per-hour and, while many people said they did not mind paying to park when they went to Artrix, the college was lambasted for making it an ‘online only’ payment method.
The centre is used by a lot of older people in the daytime, when the charges are in place, and many do not have a smart phone to go online or use the app to pay.
Parking at the council’s car park at the leisure centre provides an alternative but the walking distance to Artrix from there could prove daunting for the less mobile.
There are people who also have smart phones who do not want to pay via a phone call or mobile app.
Drivers who do not pay the parking fee face a £100 penalty charge which it is feared has put many people off visiting the centre which could also find itself struggling with a drop in revenue.
Representatives from Bromsgrove Arts Alive (BAA) recently met with the college vice-principal and chair of governors to present a petition calling for a card payment machine to be installed. The list was signed by 1,468 people.
It was then the group was told how much the machine would cost to install and maintain.
A BAA spokesperson said: “A number of daytime visitors to Artrix, particularly those without smartphones and ready access to the internet, have said they would welcome this means of paying as an alternative to having to phone, use the app. or register online.
“Despite the obvious community benefit of an on-site payment machine, the costs quoted by the college are well beyond the budget of Bromsgrove arts organisations.
“It is proving difficult to find a way forward with this, but Bromsgrove Arts Alive continues to seek a viable solution.”
The Standard asked the arts centre if it had seen its footfall hit by the car parking charges in the last quarter of last year, compared to the same period in 2018.
It did not provide figures to us but Artrix director Angela Galvin said: “We’re very grateful that Artrix audiences have continued to support us, enjoying lots of great performances and experiences, despite changes in the car park charges since September.
“A card-payment option would be a really positive step forward, creating a parking option that’s convenient and accessible for all of our visitors.”
We have contacted HoW College for comment but are yet to receive a response.