PARKING attendants are deliberately avoiding parts of Leamington because so many pay and display machines are broken.
A council worker, who did not wish to be named, says the machines are being targeted by a homeless man who is hitting them in a bid to get money out.
She told the Observer: “In Leamington there are so many on-street parking machines out of order – the situation is really bad.
“It has been going on for years but recently the problem is getting worse and the council are even running out of covers to put over the machines when they are broken.”
The worker believes it is the same man attacking the parking meters and says he waits until a driver pays for a ticket and walks off before hitting the machine to get the money back out.
And she insists some areas are so badly affected – with two machines reported to be broken in Euston Place, three on Hamilton Terrace and three on Holly Walk – attendants are actively avoiding going there.
She said: “There are places parking attendants try not to visit because they know people won’t have tickets. But they feel sorry for the drivers because so many machines are out of order.
“Although some people are trying to get out of paying, for some, it’s the distance they would have to walk to find a working machine and get a ticket.”
And with only one engineer covering the area she feels the problem is unlikely to be rectified any time soon.
She added: “It is the duty of the council to fix them but there is only one engineer responsible for the whole of Warwickshire and it can take him ages to come out.
“The machines that are out of order are simply not being fixed and this is making the situation even worse.”
The exact cost of repairing a broken machine varies, but a recent spate of attacks on parking meters in Wales cost around £5,500 per machine to fix.
When asked about the issue, Warwickshire County Council – who took over on-street parking enforcement last year – maintained there were only 14 out of 150 machines in Leamington currently not working.
A spokeswoman apologised for the inconvenience caused by the broken machines and added: “They are all on a repair list although three may take longer to fix due to parts on order.
“If a member of the public finds a machine out of use they should endeavour to use another machine in that location.
“Many of the parking machine issues in the town have resulted from vandalism. The police are aware of this and the local authority will actively pursue the perpetrators to reduce the costs of this crime to the public purse.”
Those who witness vandalism should call 101 to report it to the police.