£7,564 to teach how to park at Regent Arcade in Cheltenham
THOUSANDS of pounds have been spent on hiring staff to show people how to pay to park in Cheltenham.
The two workers have been employed to help drivers use the new machines at Regent Arcade car park.
Their wages are coming to £7,654 over three months.
This is on top of the £85,355 paid for the high tech ticketless parking machines which use automatic number plate recognition.
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The cost has sparked surprise among drivers.
One car park user Mark Parker, from Kempsford, said: "That's a lot of money to spend on something like that.
"When we got to the car park we were confused initially but then we looked around and worked it out for ourselves pretty easily."
A Freedom of Information Act revealed Cheltenham Borough Council is paying £89 a day to employ two people part-time to show motorists how to use the machines.
They sit next to the machines in high visibility jackets from 9am to 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays and from 9am to 5pm on Sundays to help puzzled parkers pay after their shop.
The council has confirmed the arrangements to "manage the transition and assist customers with the changeover" would be reviewed at the end of September.
A spokesman said the support staff at the car park were tasked with a number of roles.
She said: "Managing the transition and assisting customers with the changeover costs around £89 per day; this is dependent however on demand.
"In the early implementation stages additional coverage has been provided to assist customers in using the new system, helping blue badge holders and to cover high visitation periods during the summer period and school holidays."
The number plate recognition machines were installed on July 6. When drivers want to leave, they use a touch screen to key in their registration number and a picture of their car appears. They then make a payment for their length of stay.
In July, Rebecca Banner, the council's parking administration manager, said the launch was successful and had received positive feedback.
She said the staff were there to help customers and "ensure the smooth running of the car park for a better shopping and parking experience".
But Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, criticised the move.
He said: "The revelation that it has cost Cheltenham families nearly £100,000 to replace the parking machines and then employ individuals to explain how they work only goes to underline the need for questions to be asked of those who decided this was all worthwhile in the first place.
"Hard-pressed residents will find it hard to believe that value for money has been delivered."