It will be weeks before Shropshire Council coonverts Ludlow’s parking machines to accept the new £1 coin.
Yesterday, I heard from Hereford and Telford and Wrekin councils. They confirm that all car parking machines in their areas accept the new £1 coins. They join Worcester council, which was boasting that all its charging machines had been converted at the beginning of March. Machines in Stafford were revamped last summer and you’ll have no trouble with the new coinage in Powys.
Alas, Shropshire is way behind. Yesterday, it issued a vague promise that its payment machines will be converted later in August. That includes Ludlow.
In 1984, I was having lunch in a hotel in Baker Street with several people from the Royal Mint. In a lively discussion over beers one lunchtime, the conversation strayed from the topic of our training course, an obscure computer programming language, to the almost new pound coin. One of the guys from the Mint raged against what he said was a travesty in coin design. He threw a £1 coin into the air and it fell to the floor of the bar with a clunk. “Hear that!” he cried. “It didn’t ring, it clunked.” Over lunch, we were briefed on why coins should ring when dropped. I have been to more interesting lunches.
It is true to say that old £1 coin was never much loved. Clunking aside, it was a very unattractive design. And around 3% of the coins were counterfeit.
But now people are wandering the streets of Ludlow and other Shropshire towns desperate to see an old coin because our parking meters have yet to be converted. Across the county, 73 parking machines refuse to take the new pound coin.
I asked officers about conversion dates earlier in the week. The original deadline for conversion had been 31 July. Officers responded:
Our supplier is currently working on the software after having some resource issues. We have a start date of the 14th August across the County. We will be putting Shrewsbury and Ludlow as the priorities.
We will be changing the stickers to reflect this on the machines. Once the machines are completed a new sticker will be placed on the machine informing about the upgrade for our customers.
I haven’t seen an old pound coin in weeks. Shropshire Council is letting our county down by dragging its feet over conversion.
If you are coming to Ludlow in the next few weeks, I’d advise bringing a pocket full of loose change. Better still, use the park and ride where it is free to park and the buses take the new coin.
The current £1 coin will lose its legal tender status at midnight on 15 October 2017.