Mint coins it in!

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NEARLY every vending machine, one-armed bandit, coin-operated telephone or ticket machine is going to have to be modified to cope with new 5p and 10p pieces.

The changes to Calderdale Council’s 215 parking ticket machines alone will cost council tax payers £50,000.

The bigger coins are due to be introduced in January and because of a nationwide demand for machines to be adapted, council leaders will be asked to place orders for the alterations next week.

The new coins will be made from steel, with a nickel coating.

They will look identical and weigh the same but will be 11 per cent thicker and magnetic, said highways manager Dave Tee.

“The coin mechanism in existing ticket machines will not recognise the new coins and will reject them,” he said.

“All the machines are supplied by Parkeon and only they can supply the upgrades.”

Each machine will have to be programmed for the Calderdale parking changes, which will take about four weeks to complete.

“There is likely to be a big demand placed on Parkeon from other users so the sooner orders can be placed, the better,” said Mr Tee, in a report to the cabinet which meets on Monday.

Visitors to the High Street car park, in Halifax, were surprised to hear the coins were changing and angry that the council would have to pick up the bill

Driver Jonathan Stokes said it was the last thing that should be happening at a time when the council was supposed to be saving money.

The change, proposed by the former Labour government, is designed to save the Royal Mint between £7 million and £8 million a year, allowing it to use steel rather than copper, which has surged in price over recent years.

Car-park user Deborah Gibson said she seldom used 5p and 10p coins because most vending and ticket machines don’t accept them.

And motorist Craig Hodgson said that because the ticket machines don’t give change it was necessary to use low value coins for short stays.

Both saw the need to adapt the machines as a waste of money.

A spokesman for the British Parking Association said every single bit of parking equipment will have to be changed.

“This is going to be a considerable investment for all the local authorities, and it will have to be local taxpayers who pay for this.”

The council’s economy and environment spokesman Barry Collins, said: “This change has been forced on councils by the government and the Royal Mint.

“It is likely to have massive implications – not just for councils but for all car park operators who run coin-operated pay and display machines.

“For the government to impose this expenditure on councils at a time of economic uncertainty really does show a serious lack of joined-up thinking.”

Jonathan Hilder, of the Automatic Vending Association said 462,000 refreshment machines were being converted across the UK, at a cost which could reach £42 million - and that would have to be passed on to consumers.

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