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Parking the legacy

Fancy a swim at the Aquatic Centre with your kids? Need to use the car park? Better be sure in that case you’ve got cash to feed the machine because it won’t accept a card.

Friends took their two children aged 12 and 8 for what they said was an enjoyable swim. Enjoyable, that is, until they had to go home. They had overrun the free hour’s parking so had to pay £1.50, a perfectly reasonable charge. Only problem was the machine only took cash and they didn’t have any. In most cases you can pay a parking charge by card and they went round the different machines to see which one took a card. But none did.

The notice at the entrance hadn’t said ‘cash only’ and when they asked at the reception desk of the Aquatic Centre no-one had said it was cash only.

Aquatic Centre car park signAquatic Centre car park sign.

So back they went to the reception desk to see if they could make a payment there only to find the parking charge was nothing to do with them. They were directed to a machine at the exit of the car park to talk to a faceless voice which told them they could only pay by cash. When they said they didn’t have any cash they were told, rudely, too bad, you’ll have to find a cash machine

By now it was dark and getting cold on a January Sunday night with two small children. The Aquatic Centre was in the middle of nowhere and neither the receptionist nor the faceless voice could tell them where the nearest cash machine was.

They asked for the gate to be lifted so that they could go home and sort out the payment later. No, no money, no exit. By now a further hour had elapsed so the charge was now £3. They found another family was in the same plight, also queuing up at the reception desk without the cash to get out.

They decided to call the police to be let out. The police came and were sympathetic but could do nothing about the gate. The officer said this was the second time he had been called to the car park for this reason. One officer, two calls? How many other officers and how many other calls?

But at least the police officer was able to say where the nearest cash point was, at the bottom of the absurd pile of metal known as the Orbit.

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